The Lost Lover Found
1D Where has your lover gone,
most beautiful among women?
Where has your lover withdrawn
that we may seek him with you?*
to the beds of spices,
To feed in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
3b I belong to my lover, and my lover belongs to me;
he feeds among the lilies.
The Beauty of the Woman
4M Beautiful as Tirzah are you, my friend;*
fair as Jerusalem,
fearsome as celestial visions!
5c Turn your eyes away from me,
for they stir me up.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down from Gilead.
6d Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
that come up from the washing,
All of them big with twins,
none of them barren.
7Like pomegranate halves,
your cheeks behind your veil.
8Sixty are the queens, eighty the concubines,
and young women without number—
9One alone* is my dove, my perfect one,
her mother’s special one,
favorite of the one who bore her.
Daughters see her and call her happy,
queens and concubines, and they praise her:
beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun,
fearsome as celestial visions?”
to see the young growth of the valley;
To see if the vines were in bloom,
if the pomegranates had blossomed.
12Before I knew it, my desire had made me
the blessed one of the prince’s people.*
* [6:2–3] The woman implies here that she had never really lost her lover, for he has come down to his garden (cf. 2:16; 4:5). Feed…lilies: the imagery here evokes both a shepherd pasturing his flocks and erotic play between the lovers (2:16; 4:5, 12, 16).
* [6:4–9] The man again celebrates the woman’s beauty. Tirzah: probably meaning “pleasant”; it was the early capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (1 Kgs 16). Celestial visions: the meaning is uncertain. Military images may be implied here, i.e., the “heavenly hosts” who fight along with God on Israel’s behalf (cf. Jgs 5:20), or perhaps a reference to the awesome goddesses of the region who combined aspects of both fertility and war.
* [6:9] One alone: the incomparability of the woman is a favorite motif in love poetry.
* [6:12] The text is obscure in Hebrew and in the ancient versions. The Vulgate reads: “I did not know; my soul disturbed me because of the chariots of Aminadab.” Based on a parallel in Jgs 5:24, “chariots” is here emended to “blessed one.”