11.01.2006



I rose up to open to my beloved, and my hands dropped with myrrh,
my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, flowing over the handles of the lock.


These lines from the Song of Songs affect me like no others. Even H.D.'s "my mouth is wet with your life" doesn't make me flow over the handles of the lock quite so fluently.

I am thinking about "to know"--how in Sunday School, I always thought it was a silly, G-rated euphemism: When the Bible says "to know," it really means _______. I don't know what the original says, if the English translators chose "to know"--but if not...if it was always "to know"...isn't that more astonishing, shockingly intimate, than any alternative? "To know" implies deep exploration, complete knowledge...maybe through long, devoted hours of study--maybe through something physically felt at the cellular level like faith, as some know their gods; it suggests clear and open eyes, the light of knowledge, wisdom. Those biblical lovers were blessed if they were known.

11 comments:

V said...

Oh--I haven't read either the HD poem nor the Bible quote in years! Thanks for making me go and take another look.

Emily Lloyd said...

LOL--if you're going to the source, I'd better admit that "flowing over" is my own exaggeration...most versions show "myrrh upon the handles of the lock."

Robin said...

Whatever it is, I like it with the photo.

V said...

Well, actually I just went back to the HD poem. I'm kind of afraid of the Bible. :) But HD (and you!) gave me something to send to my woman yesterday. To good effect, in fact.

Emily Lloyd said...

V--glad to be of help. [grin] Even more so now that I've read your post of 02/13.

jenni said...

love the photo!

V said...

Yeah, we'll see if she ends up realizing I mean that I am in love with her, and not just in love with Poetry and HD in general...every time I think I'm figured her out, she becomes more confusing. And confused...

Emily Lloyd said...

Jenni--yes. It makes me not want to be a treehugger exactly...

V--mmm...you might need a more direct poem (suggestions available upon emailed request [grin]). Does she read your blog?

V said...

I have written my own love poems for her, but she thought I was joking. She's so into the idea of the speaker being divorced from the writer that it becomes problematic.

I hope she doesn't read my blog. She's a technophobe, so probably not.

Though I would always take suggestions....

Tony said...

At least in Modern Hebrew, the verb for "to know" also means "to know biblically."

I'm guessing that the translators were not taking a liberty. Or it could be that Modern Hebrew took a nod from King James. But I doubt that.

Anonymous said...

Emily,

Biblical Hebrew does indeed use the verb "to know" in the sense of "to have sexual relations with," though only within certain parameters. "To know" is used only for consensual and legitimate (within cultural standards) sex, else there are other words. You are right on target about the deeper implications of "to know," all of which the Biblical writers were aware of and intended.