Follow-Up: A Single Story

A year ago, I wrote about my search for various things, including stories about single ladies living their lives without worrying about their singleness:

But Susan’s story (and Hannah Coulter, and The Princess Bride, and any given article on Boundless) suggests that there is no other narrative, that no lady can ever be happy without The One, that the only ending possible is marriage.  This ground has been trod by a lot of women in tiresome family-vs-career arguments, but the fact remains that I want a story: a different story than my usual fare, something involving a woman who is content with a different sort of happy ending.  I’m looking for a female character who is content to live her life on her own, if only to show me that it is possible.

This turned out to be a bit difficult, such that I am returning to it now with what little bit of insight I’ve gleaned over the past year.  Since readers and friends all suggested one or two books at most, and that with some amount of struggle, I was reassured that I hadn’t missed an entire section at the library or bookshop.  Initial suggestions included:

Miss Marple stories – Agatha Christie
I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
The Thirteenth Tale – Dianne Setterfield
The Story of a Soul – St. Therese of Lisieux (autobiography)
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc – Mark Twain

It’s a small field, one friend suggested, because for centuries, a lady’s singleness didn’t just mean loneliness, awkwardness amongst the society of couples, or agonizing over whether she was fulfilling her telos.  It meant being without provider or protector, in a time when it was much more difficult, if not impossible, for women to provide for or protect themselves.  Thus, she said, the only stories of that type to be expected would focus on nuns – living within the provision and protection of an abbey – or great queens, who held enough power to concern themselves with affairs and interests beyond their marital state and household management.

I later learned that, unbeknownst to me, The Atlantic had published an editorial on the same subject about a month before I addressed it.  Ms. McKinney’s concerns were somewhat different from mine; she seemed to call for a story with a female protagonist and no love subplots whatsoever, which is a rather formidable task.  She made a few suggestions, not all of them equally hopeful:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
Housekeeping –
Marilynne Robinson
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Help
– Kathryn Stockett
The Awakening –
Kate Chopin
The Devil Wears Prada –
Lauren Weisberger
Salvage the Bones –
Jesmyn Ward

More useful than McKinney’s musings were the comments.  Normally, the comments section of any given article online is a wasteland of hatred, name-calling, and poor grammar, but these responses contained thoughtful criticism and a plethora of recommended titles.  Here are a few comments that struck a chord:

Lasting love is perennially hard to find… for both men and women, so it makes for good story and character development in literature.

Girls too young to be interested in boys made good stories. 

I think there are probably more love-plotless books in the YA category than the adult category

It’s not spite [on the part of publishers]. They won’t choose it simply because it doesn’t appeal to them, so they think it won’t sell. It doesn’t appeal to them because they aren’t used to it. They aren’t used to it because there are NONE IN THE SYSTEM.

I also disagree with your premise that self-discovery is always a solitary process. Why can’t a woman’s process of self-discovery include a little romance? That doesn’t mean that the entire purpose of her life is now to be married and have kids.

…To some extent human biology, and psychology, cares about reproduction because otherwise the species dies. So it’s likely at least some characters will have a drive for heterosexual love or sex unless there is a reason none of them do. (It’s a children’s book or they’re all children, it’s set in a monastery or convent, they’re all gay, it’s some kind of futuristic unisex setting where people reproduce by cloning, etc) But this isn’t really a male/female issue. I think there’s likely few novels, for adults, with male protagonists where love or sex has absolutely no role.

The author overlooks the fact that in the past looking for a man was more than about looking for love; it was about looking for a secure future–the equivalent of a job. For this reason many female authors such as Jane Austen are quite unsentimental when it comes to husband hunting…

I grew up reading the lives of saints. That is as diverse a group of women as you could ever hope to meet. One thing they all seemed to have in common was a strength of character that allowed them to face the unknown, challenge norms – even lead men into battle if that is what God called them to do.

Yes, we need more female protagonists that represent the modern woman. No, I don’t expect to find them in the Victorian Era.

I went through the various recommendations to see if they were, indeed, what I was looking for.  Admittedly, I am working from secondhand sources, because I wanted to share the possibilities before reading through all of them; precedent suggests that I wouldn’t have posted this for another 5 years if I read them all first.  But based on Goodreads, the following books show some promise in depicting women whose stories are not romances:

The Crow Trap (and other tales of detective Vera Stanhope) – Ann Cleeves
A Field of Darkness
– Cornelia Read
Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier
My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
State of Wonder – Ann Patchett
Clan of the Cave Bears/Valley of Horses – Jean Auel
Deed of Paksenarrion Trilogy – Elizabeth Moon
Friday – R. Heinlein
Titan/Wizard/Demon – John Varley
Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons
Little Bee – Chris Cleave
The Optimist’s Daughter – Eudora Welty
Loitering with Intent – Muriel Spark
The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf

Perhaps in another year I’ll be able to report back on how happy or fulfilled these characters are.

Please let me know if you have any additions, corrections, or thoughts on this list!

Seeking Song and Story

Once upon a time, I read this guest post by Briana of Pages Unbound.  I put in my two cents about sidekick protagonists, carried on with my reading, and proceeded not to think about it further for four months.  But that post has been bouncing about my mind of late, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that Briana sought something that might not have existed.  She wasn’t looking for help remembering that one book she read in seventh grade that focused on the sidekick for a change and also it involved the Brooklyn skyline somehow. Had none of us readers had any volume to suggest, we might have taken it as a request to create such a narrative for her.

The second reason I’ve been thinking about it is that this post highlights the benefit of human eyes and human minds when one is on the hunt.  Google and other search engines do their very best to help one find a particular item or passage, and there have often been times when I could use such tools to find a song, a movie, a book of which I only recalled the haziest details.  But if you don’t come up with the right search terms, or if your query gets too lengthy, it can impede rather than assist your progress.

Therefore, dear readers, I bring my concerns to you, and hope that you can help with one or the other of these things I seek.

I’m looking for…

…a piece of music. 

I sang it in June 2001, at the Illinois Summer Youth Music choir camp.  It is called “Canticle,” and I sang it as part of an all-girl ensemble led by some Canadian lady whose name eludes me.  Tragically, I supposed that remembering all the words and most all of the notes would help me to find it again.  I was mistaken.  The text is Psalm 89:1 (or Psalm 88:2 for the Douay-Rheims folk) in Latin: Misericordias Domini in æternum cantabo; in generationem et generationem annuntiabo veritatem tuam in ore meo.  No idea who composed it.  No idea if it’s a setting of some earlier composer’s work or chant.  Someone, for the love of my sanity, tell me this rings a bell for you.

UPDATE: I ask, and Jenna delivers!!  Michael Levi’s Canticle!  MY HEART IS FULL OF SONG.

…an explanation for why “capital” should be different from “capitol.” 

Evidently I completely forgot this distinction in the years since my elementary spelling classes, but “capital” refers to the city or town which serves as the seat of government, while “capitol” refers to the building in which the legislature gathers.  Typically heterographs don’t bother me, but I just. don’t. understand.  Someone call the Inky Fool.

UPDATE: I have been informed that the legislative building was named, per Jefferson, for the Roman temple of Jupiter on Capitoline Hill.  Thus far I am satisfied that the difference stems from an existing difference between the words in Rome, but there has been no further illumination of the difference between Latin suffixes or whatnot.  Do feel free to ring up Inky anyway and see what capital he can make of it.

…a less-typical narrative. 

This one’s a bit tricky to explain.  Earlier today, I read this post (which, briefly, is the story of Susan Isaacs looking for love online, getting rejected from eHarmony because she didn’t fit into their algorithm, and eventually finding The Man on Christian Cafe).  I’m not 41, and my fortnight on OkCupid is nothing compared to Susan’s litany of dating site attempts.  When I reached the end, I was glad for her: she seems to have found what she was looking for, and it rounded out the story quite neatly.  But it also rang a bit hollow because it rounded out the story so neatly.

    "The artistic flaw is inaccuracy, specifically a violation of the canons of reality. Things don’t happen that neatly. It’s an upward slope, finally plateauing into a straight line. Which…when that happens on your heart monitor, it’s a bad thing." Oh, Dr. Whalen. How illuminating you are.

“The artistic flaw is inaccuracy, specifically a violation of the canons of reality. Things don’t happen that neatly. It’s an upward slope, finally plateauing into a straight line. Which…when that happens on your heart monitor, it’s a bad thing.” Oh, Dr. Whalen. How illuminating you are.

This isn’t normally a criticism I raise, because I appreciate both romance and happy, tidy endings.  I don’t recall ever complaining about the Prince marrying The Girl in any given fairy tale, or how relationships (and events more generally) shake out in Austen, Harry Potter, Stardust, or the Lord Peter stories.  I don’t whinge about Dune ending with “History will call us wives,” or the end of That Hideous Strength.  I don’t consider myself a feminist, and have never evaluated books on the basis of whether or not they pass the Bechdel Test.

But Susan’s story (and Hannah Coulter, and The Princess Bride, and any given article on Boundless) suggests that there is no other narrative, that no lady can ever be happy without The One, that the only ending possible is marriage.  This ground has been trod by a lot of women in tiresome family-vs-career arguments, but the fact remains that I want a story: a different story than my usual fare, something involving a woman who is content with a different sort of happy ending.  I’m looking for a female character who is content to live her life on her own, if only to show me that it is possible.

Surely one must exist; for all I know, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of such stories that I’ve completely missed.  And if not, my dears, please help me write one.

Dare to See Beauty

I have often propounded – in writing and in conversation – the belief that art teaches us to see beauty. More, this is the main purpose of art.

I have talked, quoted, referenced, scribbled, and thought.

But I have not acted.

So this video felt like a punch in the stomach. This is a fashion photographer who saw photo of disabilities and physical differences in medical textbooks, and was horrified by the ugliness portrayed. He instinctively recognized that those photos, that strangeness, does not show respect for the human person. In fact, most photos of say, down syndrome, make the condition look terrifying.

And rather than just think about it, Rick Guidotti acted on it.

He frames his work in terms of “thinking outside the box” and “redefining beauty”, but his work is much, much more. His enthusiasm and love and recognition of beauty are infectious: he sees the beauty of human life so clearly that makes it visible to everyone in his photos. He is an artist.

I have always been under the impression that the fashion world makes the heart mind and soul small and closed. Silly prejudice. But Guidotti’s work made him better able to see the joy, life, and love that are the real components of beauty. He began with albinos, and since then has been photographing people with chromosome 18 syndrome, marfan syndrome, et al.

This video cannot be imbedded but please click here to go watch!

He closes with the challenge: “Dare to see beauty! Once you see it, it will overwhelm you!”

“People say I reveal the ‘inner-beauty’. Nonsense. There is no inner-beauty. There is just beauty. Dare to see it.”

Teresa’s Ecstasy

Happy feast of Saint Teresa of Avila!

This is the little girl who at the wise age of 7 was convinced that she would be bad when she grew up, so she convinced her younger brother to run away with her to the crusades. So she could die a holy death before she grew up and became wicked. (Her uncle caught them right outside the city walls.)

She is seriously bad-ass.

She had an incredible ability to be practical and get things done, – a skill I sorely lack – and she was a mystic.

Both, at one time.

‘Cause that’s just the way God works.

This is the woman who could be frank with God.

She was traveling all over Spain reconverting monasteries to a more humble and holy way of life, and she was having a rough time. One day, she was traveling on the back of farm cart, when the cart went over a bump and she was thrown out into a very muddy puddle. Sitting there in the middle of the road, she lifted her hand to Heaven and groaned, “Lord, this is how you are treating me?”

At that point a vision of the Christ child appeared to her, smiled beatifically, and told her sweetly, “This is how I always treat my friends!”

Teresa took a moment to register this, and then dryly responded, “Then, forgive me for saying so, Lord, but that must be why you have so few friends!”

In one of her visions, she was pierced by a spear, which is reminiscent of both Our Lord’s experience on the cross, and a more intimate encounter with the Bridegroom. In her own words,

“I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it…”

This experience was captured in the famous sculpture of Theresa’s ecstasy, and then later in a sublime poem.

by Richard Wilbur

After the sun’s eclipse
The brighter angel and the spear which drew
A bridal outcry from her open lips,

She could not prove it true,
Nor think at first of any means to test
By what she had been wedded or possessed.

Not all cries were the same;
There was an island in mythology
Called by the very vowels of her name
Where vagrants of the sea,
Changed by a word, were made to squeal and cry
As heavy captives in a witch’s sty.

The proof came soon and plain:
Visions were true which quickened her to run
God’s barefoot errands in the rocks of Spain
Beneath its beating sun,
And lock the O of ecstasy within
The tempered consonants of discipline.

A Most Auspicious Occasion

Which would be . . . . the birthday of Dorothy L. Sayers.

It would be a poor thing if we, as the Egotist’s Club, passed over the natal day of the woman from whom’s writing we have derived our identity.

“The Egotist’s Club”, described first in the Wimsey short story “The Man with Copper Fingers”, and mentioned – more saliently to our purpose – was created by Sayers one of the Gentleman’s Clubs frequented by Lord Peter.  I would like to think that it was a nod to the literary publication of Pound and Eliot called, “The Egotist”.

Sayers was a brilliant academic, who wrote many essays, stories, and translations. She was one of the first to translate Dante into English keeping the terza rima scheme, although she died before she could finish.

And despite the turmoil and difficulty of her personal life, her thoughts are beautiful. Her mystery stories are unique in being not only character driven, but in delving into the consequences of the different ideas and approaches to life. Each story is really an exploration of how ideas affect decisions, how philosophies can kill.

Ms. Sayers, your imagination spurs ours. We raise a glass in your honor. Cheers!



Mel’s Meme: Oh, Prisons of Finitude!

In my defence, I did not mean these memes to be quite as romantic as they sound. (Also, no one would help me make them up! You guys do it next time!)

Yes, I know, they sound ridiculously mushy. But I was trying to find specific, earthy examples of abstract, philosophical questions. And the questions that I do tend to lean on the side of are usually things like;

“Literature, the sharing of words, stories, and experience, presupposes a community in which to do the sharing. So, what role do books have in creating, fostering, and renewing community? What – if anything – do books have to do with being  Human? Being Human in a community? Love, or the need for another person, is the basic instinct that draws human being together into a community. Can books facilitate that function? How? Why? Which books?” ~Melpomene, Musings in the Witching Hour*

Ahem. Et cetera.

In this instance, what I was trying to question was not so much a problem of romantic love. Rather, I wanted to know if there were books so dear, so crucial, so formative to my own Being and understanding of the world that it would be impossible to share a life with another person without likewise sharing this work of literature.

Le sigh.

As usual, my scope is too wide and my example too narrow.

My sad choice of phrasing does place some practical limitations on this week’s challenge. I am quite sure there will be other things I will want to be doing on my Honeymoon. But as it is, I must carefully select a work that fosters this very select community of two, preferably with the opportunity for discussions, enjoyment of the words and story, and probably give some of the epic, sacramental scope of matrimonial love.

Heart of the World:
by Hans Urs Von Balthasar

This is a very beautiful, delicate, odd little book. (It is short, sweet, and can be picked up and put down easily. The reading it aloud only increases the delight. The perfect honeymoon book!) Von Balthasar is known as a theologian, but this book – even in translation! – marks him as a poet. Oh, it is written in prose form, but the exquisite sentences, graceful imagery, and meandering unfolding of ideas marks this a work of Poetry.

It feels like an old man musing on the nature of the world and the meaning of living (emphasis on the act of living, as well as the more abstract concept of life) and allowing his ideas to flow forth in the sweetest, most beautiful expressions possible. It is a work which invites the readers into contemplation, stillness, beauty, grace, and, (most deeply) love. This work has been describes as the ” pure serenity of a volcano under snow”. And as poetry, it shares the experience between souls, the most hidden and holy expressions of the Heart.

He begins by describing the drift in the River of Time, gently opening with the idea of the Self and the Other, the precious individuality that as yet leaves us each alone; ideas I have thought about, but for which I have never been able to find the proper articulation.

“Prisons of finitude!

Like every other being, man is born in many prison. Soul, body, thought, intuition, endeavor: everything about him has a limit, is itself tangible limitation; everything is a This and a That, different from other things and shunned by them. From  the grilled windows of the senses each person looks out to the alien things which he will never be . . .  How far it is from one being to its closest neighbor! And even if they love each other and wave to one another from island to island, even if they attempt to exchange solitudes and pretend they have unity, how much more painfully does disappointment then fall upon them when they touch invisible bars . . . Being are alien to one another, even if they do stand beautifully by one another and complement one another colors, like water and stone, like sun and fog: even if they do communally perfect the resounding harmony of the universe. Variegation pays the price of separation . . . The limpid mirror has been shattered . . . but every single splinter remains precious, and from each fragment there flashes a ray of the mystery of its origin.” ~ Chapter One: The Flowing Stream

And so he continues on, finding words fit to picture, at least in part, a mystery of the World. And the main image centering, (anchoring, cohering,) the book is the image of the cross as an embrace. The world as full of significance and meaning and tremendous splendor. The unity of beings is only possible in the Union of Christ to His bride, the Church. And this the example we have on which to model out marriages.

The second half of the book shifts slightly to address the church as the beloved bride, at the same time gracefully makes it clear that reader who has been addressed from the start of the book is the church, the bride. And despite all flaws, failures, mistakes and stumbles, is still greatly loved. The entire book is, essentially, a love letter from Christ to each person in the world. It is a wild, wild, love.

And so after all, it is a romantic book. It celebrates the highest Romance in the history of the World. Hopefully, it should remind this newly married couple of their place in echoing, entering, and living this Great Mystery.

“Everything hearkens back to your throbbing Heart. Time and the seasons still hammer away and create, and your Heart still drives the world and all its happenings forward with great, painful blows. It is the unrest of the clock and your Heart is restless until we rest in you, once time and eternity have become interfused. But: be at peace! I have overcome the world. The torment of sin had already been submerged in the stillness of love. The experience of what the world is has made love darker, more fiery, more ardent. The shallower abyss of rebellion has been swallowed up in unfathomable mercy, and throbbing majestically reigns serene the Heart of God.” ~ Chapter 13: Love – A Wilderness

Christ as Bridegroom

* “The Witching Hour” is three in the morning, when daimons prefer to visit their mortal instruments.

Epic Meme Saturday: Supercailfragilistucexpialidosious

Literary references that would win my heart…oh goodness, Thalia is right there are many ways that would be interpreted.

Well, there are so many books or idea that are quite lovely and would convince me that the person who knew them is someone I would love to get to know better. there are a few though that would assure me that the employer of them is not only well-educated and has a wonderful sense of humor, but also has great strength of character.

First there is that ever fateful and ever quote line from The Virginian “When you call me that… SMILE.” It may be very simple and maybe a tad too recognizable for common usage, but the ideas behind it are wonderful. for who would not admire someone who would righteously stand up for his own honor! After all, it is a sin to calumniate another’s name, so I think it is wrong to let other abuse you, either to you face as Trampas did the Virginian, or behind their back, as the Virginian stopped the same from doing to Molly. Besides, someone who could say that in a right context and not look like a fool would be a very rare thing indeed, with the ability to maintain this own dignity and the strength to not be cowed by another.

Another reference that I would love to hear some one use would be Blake’s poem Tyger, Tyger! Not the first stanza, but the middle (third)

What the shoulder, what the art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat

What dread hand and what dread feet!

Ooooo, it makes me shiver! Though I have no idea how such a quote could even be used in a normal conversation, the person who could pull it off well would be admirable indeed and I would be most desirous to make their further acquainted.

Also, any one who managed to use the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidosious” in a sentence would be my every lasting hero.

So far, all these quotes are things that would raise a person in my estimation, but to truly captures my heart as only the one for whom measures up to my silver yard stick and who will fit me as  the falcon’s feathers fit the falcon, I reserve two references.

The first is “This isn’t Spaghetti, its army noodles with ketchup!” oh, you who know what this is from will know why I love it so much. It also ties back to one of my earlier posts.

The second is very corny, but very beautiful all the same. it is Farm Boy’s humble “As you wish” to his beloved Buttercup. Though I have no wish to be likened to that quintessential blonde, that one phrase has a lot of meaning behind it. Probably a great deal more that the author thought. that one sentiment expresses true love, and I am not talking about the sad impression of true love that one gets from the movie and the book The Princess Bride. It is a reflection of the love that we are meant to have for God. God, as all loving, all good and all-knowing, loves us perfectly and wants only what would make us happy, truly happy, which usually is not what we think would make us happy. (strange how that works out…) and so by saying to God, “not my will but yours be done” we are submitting to His perfect wisdom and love in perfect confidence and love. And that is what I would desire, (not to be god, ug that would be awful!!!), but for my spouse to have love and confidence enough in me to trust that I would do only what was best.

So I am a sentimental sod, but I like it!

Mel’s Meme: You Have Stolen My Heart

Literary pickup lines? Seriously? Who wrote this meme?

Oh. Yeah. Ahem.

That was me.


This is one that I deliberately left open. It requires some personal definition. And when it comes down to testing it, it all depends on the people involved.

I like to protest that I am not a romantic person, and keep a slightly cynical cloak about me to protect myself from the world.

But when pushed, I find that I do have a penchant for the sweet and sincere and lovely.

I admit that almost any line from John Donne makes my heart beat quickly. A particularly good reading of “The Flea” makes laugh and smile, capturing both my attention and my affection.

And I would swoon over the man who can deliver  the line, “I will live in thy heart, die in the lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle’s!”

Because there is something that line that encapsulates the heart of romance for me. It has the dual strength of poetic devotion and practical aid; the promise of union in both spiritual and material worlds.

Which brings to me to The One Reference To Rule . . .  er, My Heart, Mind, and Soul:

The Song of Songs

(Aka: The Song of Solomon, The Canticle of Canticles)

This is book is, frankly, hilarious. I first read it when I was about twelve or thirteen, and could not stop giggling. “Your hair is like a flock of goats”? Strange. How is that a compliment?

Any woman drawn by these descriptions would look pretty odd. (Like here.)

But at the heart of the Song of Songs is a deep, dramatic, devoted adoration of the beloved. The similes may sound a tad amusing, but they are rooted in deep affection and deep reality.

Like the above quote from my man Benedick, this poem unites two worlds. It is rooted in the “material world”. It addresses the physical beauties and difficulties that we know, from the immediately accessible similes, to the earnest admiration and desire beneath the words. It is deeply, deeply sensual. Often this is all read as a pure allegory, for when taken as literal truth it feels a bit . . . uncomfortable to read.

There is certainly that level of meaning, the allusion to the sacred union of God and the church, the devotion that we the Bride should feel for our intensely loving bridegroom. In Aquinas’ commentary, he opens up the meanings of the phrases that I find ridiculous, and layers their sweet expression with the sublime gravity and intensity of spiritual truth.

But it maintains both worlds, full in of themselves, within the same imagery. As poetry, it achieves what Allen calls the “symbolic imagination”.

And in doing so, it becomes one of the most beautiful books of the Bible.

It has the romantic devotion rightly ordered, the spiritual truth, the unity of spiritual and practical meaning, and the simplicity of two loving  hearts aching to be as one.

Er, simple. Yes.

It is, ultimately the most poetic retelling of the greatest love story.

Some phrases might make me laugh, still. But that is not a bad thing.

This poem it is intensely, devotedly, beautifully romantic.

Once a friend found me reading this, and he warned me quite seriously, “Be careful! That book might teach you to love!”


1 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of leopards.
You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love , my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14     nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.


16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.