Song of Solomon 3 The Voice (VOICE)
3 Her: Restless night after night in my bed,
This libretto is full of imagery. Two of the most common images are that of the gazelle and the lotus blossom (translated here as “lily”), both frequently used in many ancient Near Eastern cultures. The gazelle is a species of antelope whose males have long horns. Both males and females move with grace and strength as they cross flat savannahs or climb steep cliffs. It is because of these traits that the gazelle is equated with sexuality, youth, and stamina. The Israelites used it in poetry to represent the youthful joys of love and sexual vigor, while many Near Eastern pagan religions used it in images honoring fertility goddesses. The lotus is a type of lily found in watery regions. Because of its shape, which resembles the womb, and its fragrance, which is alluring, the lotus became the flower of choice for lovers across the Near East. In Israel it was featured in poetry and even dominated the capitals of the columns supporting Solomon’s temple; in Egyptian and Phoenician cultures, it represented the gods themselves. With just one word, “gazelle” or “lotus,” this poet conveys a bevy of ideas about love, youth, strength, and passion.
I pulled him to me and would not let him go
5 (to the young women of Jerusalem) Heed my warning:
6 Young Women of Jerusalem: Who is this coming up from the desert,
The royal litter carries the groom to the wedding, and upon the litter is the king with his crown.
7 Look, it is Solomon’s litter,