This is my attempt at tweezing out meaning and intent. Bear with me as I attempt to make sense of Song of Solomon for myself. First, the part that seems to be obvious. This poem is a conversation between lovers. But the more I read the more confused I become as to who the lovers are. Is it two people? Is it a series of different people? Is it a person speaking to a city or a group? I cannot say for certain.
The poem seems to continually open and close. It There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then the cycle repeats. Is this a way to mimic life? Birth. Life. Death. The beginning and end of each section are bookended with many of the same words, signaling a renewal or rebirth. Many of the words in the beginning(s) remind me of spring, or a new beginning. There are many allusions to smells such as cypress, frankincense, myrrh, and vineyards.
“Our bed is flourishing” makes me think of life and love: (Chapter 1)
Our bed is flourishing. We are sexually satisfied.
Our bed is flourishing. We are producing children. “There is none barren among them.”
Our bed is flourishing. Our crops are growing, and we are feeding the world.
This poem is about life, love, death, and decay while also being “perpetual and immortal.” Life flourishes in the land and in the body. From the vineyards to the “roes.” Life springs from the earth and from the eggs within the body (roes). “The winter is now past. The rain is over and gone.” This shows the beginning of a new season. Now we begin anew.
It is also about neglect. Or at least neglect of the self. “I have taken care of kings’ vineyards but not my own.” This seems to allude to spending a lifetime toiling for others or for the greater good and finally taking the time to stop, reflect and focus inward.
It also appears to be about good and bad; light and dark and the separation that exists between them. “I am black but beautiful.” I think this may point to a region or a time where dark skin is not viewed in positive light. But the speaker seems to take pride in her own skin regardless of the prevailing opinion. There is a lot of contrasting between the dark and the light such as with “eyes of doves”. Dark seems to be negative and light or white seems to reflect goodness. There is a divide. Two halves represented by dark and light. Separated by “Mountains of Bether,” illustrated as a “lily among thorns.”
This poem seems to be about perceived beauty and everything that comes along with it, especially those things that adhere to the feminine. Birth and renewal in the springtime, death and decay in the end, and all that comes along within a lifetime or an era. It is about acceptance and fertility. At least that is how I see it.