With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
and his banner over me was love.
refresh me with apples,
for I am sick with love.
and his right hand embraces me!
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.'
he grazes among the lilies.
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains."
And that of course is just a part of the great poem. The comment I read about it today said this:
"Many commentators suggest that the lovers in the Song are betrothed. Betrothal was a more formal, binding arrangement than engagement today. Nevertheless, full physical consummation of a relationship would not happen until after the marriage ceremony" (Penny Boshoff in Closer to God). That's the force of the lover's adjuration to her friends not to stir up love prematurely.
It's a pity that ours is a society where that's now the exception, as I found in preparing couples for marriage. Usually the reason given was "We've been committed to each other, but haven't been able to afford the wedding until now," or occasionally "It's good to know that you're really compatible before tying the knot - don't you think, vicar?" Well, to be honest, I don't. I don't think "living together" is the best preparation for marriage. I think it's a shame. There are many other ways of testing your mutual compatibility. And I don't think that was the way that God intended. The gift of the whole "you" is the ultimate wedding present to each other.
Now I regret I didn't have the courage to say just that to more people, rather than my usual anodyne acceptance that it was simply too late and "least said...." Certainly I thought being married was better than "living together", and so I would bless their unions happily.
William Windsor and Catherine Middleton are very much children of their time and culture, which habitually awakens sleeping Eros prematurely. And so I wish them joy tomorrow, and hope they'll be role models for long and happy marriage - unlike Solomon.