Summary of the Song of Songs of Solomon

Night One

Our heroine, the Shulamite, praises her lover whom she calls her ‘king.’ She notes how all the women want him.

She tells her friends, the Daughters of Jerusalem, of her troubles with her brothers. Her brothers treat her badly and make her tend their vineyards. She rebels against them by taking a  lover.

She tries to arrange a meeting with her lover, asking him where she can find him, so that she doesn’t have to be seen searching for him. This might giver her a bad reputation.

They are together. Their bed is the forest floor. Their house is made of cedars and junipers. Her lover praises her, comparing her to a wild mare. She compares him to a cluster of roses that will lie all night between her breasts.

They share praises. They make love.

She begs her friends, the Daughters of Jerusalem, not to disturb them.

Night Two

Her lover comes to her, sneaking up to her back wall, peaking in her windows.

He asks her to come with him. He begs her to show him her face, to let him hear her voice.

Her brothers notice she is gone.

Again, they lie together all night. Just before dawn, she begs him to hurry off so they are not caught.

Night Three 

Then, for several nights she could not find him.

She searched the city. The watchmen caught her wandering in the dark. She asks if they had seen her lover. They had not.

But as she passes the  watchmen, she sees her lover. She grabs him and brings him home.

Again, she begs her friends, the Daughters of Jerusalem, not to disturb them.

The Daughters compare her to a pillar of smoke, to a rising dawn. She is coming into her womanhood.

In their bed, she compares her lover to King Solomon. She fantasizes about a royal wedding and a royal bed.

He replies with a long poem of praise, complimenting every part of her body.

Just before dawn comes, he flees again.

Night Four 

He calls to her again, begging her to come with him no matter how far. He calls her from Lebanon; he calls her from the peaks of mountains; he calls her from caves and lions’ dens.

He praises her, telling her she has stolen his heart.

He compares her to a garden enclosed. She is a refuge, a protected place, a safe haven. She is all the sweetest and richest spices. She is a clean fountain in a hidden garden.

She begs him to come into her garden. She begs him to make love to her.

They make love again. More intimate than ever before. They are deeply in love.

Night Five

She is sleeping, but senses something is wrong.

She hears him outside her door. He begs her to open up to her, to come with him, complaining that he is cold and he is wet.

She replies that she is dry and clean and ready for bed. She asks him if she must get dirty.

He struggles against her door. She can feel herself becoming aroused at his familiar presence. She goes to open the door but he is gone. She is terrified at his absence.

She goes into the night, searching for him. Again, she cannot find him and again the watchmen find her. This time they are not so kind. They beat her and tear her clothes.

She begs her friends, the Daughters of Jerusalem, not to tell him how desperate she is for him.

The Daughters ask her why she values her lover so.

She replies with a long poem of praise, complimenting every part of his body.

The Daughters ask where they could find her lover, but she has found him finally, again just after the watchmen pass.

Her lover again speaks a long poem of praise, complimenting every part of her body.

This time the Daughters join in, marveling at the Shulammite.

They make love,  recovering from the dramatic events of the night.

Night Six

Now, it is the lovers companions who all want her. She has become a woman and is starting to be noticed.

They sing her praises and her lover joins in.

The night ends again with them together.

Night Seven

This time it is the girl ordering her lover to come with her to the fields, to run off to the vineyards.

Together again in their secret meeting place, she tells him she wished he were her brother so she did not have to hide him from her family.

They make love. Again, she begs her friends, the Daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb them. Again they compare her to the rising dawn.

The girl has grown into a deep understanding of love, its powers and dangers. “Fierce as death is love./ As sure as the tomb its envy.”

The brothers worry about their sister and what to do when she finds a man. If she is pure, they say, they will celebrate her. If she is wayward, they will barricade her.

She replies to them, telling them she is already a woman, and that she is already loved.

She tells them and us that she will keep her own vineyard now and it is not for her brothers to decide what she will do with her body.

Her lover has noted how all the men like her now. He begs her to remember that it is he she loves.

She does not answer, but only urges him to leave her before the day breaks and they are caught.

(This is one possible summary of the Song of Songs based on the new translation. It is an especially intricate poem and as will all poetry, there are many possible summaries.)

 

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