Introduction

Poetry many a time gives a gloss to sex. A veneer that hides the real meaning. This was more so in the medieval age when sex was not so open as today, particularly in Europe which with the advent of Christianity was caged in a wall of puritanism. Ancient India was way ahead and what America is today, India was miles ahead at that age. India appreciated art and sex and enmeshed them together. It was not so in Europe  and during the medieval age a poem titled " Song of Songs" was written. Theoretically this poem refers to the love between God and the soul. Poems  in that period had to bring in God, so that the church did not come down heavily on the poet. This poem expresses love between the soul and God. It gives an analogy of this love like between the love of  a bride and bridegroom.  The poem eulogises the love of the soul and God and compares it to the most intimate moments of carnal love between a bride and a bridegroom on the nuptial night.

The composer of this poem was Barnard of Clairvaux. Who was he? He was  a French Abbot and a reformer of the Cistercian order. Barnard wrote this poem in an inspirational mood and today it is a poem that draws the greatest attention for the latent meaning of love. Barnard could not finish his work and died just when he was beginning the 3rd chapter. Never the less the poem arouses great expectation and is considered a work of art.

The Song and Lusty Sex

The song created ripples in the art world in the 19th and 20th century when the renaissance movement of reality was ushered in. People began to read it as a lusty celebration of human carnal desire. There are hints and clues and reading the poem will bring a reader to the depth of the soul. The poem alludes to the sex acts of the Shulammite women with Solomon. By Shulammite, the writer refers to the women of Jerusalem and the acts of pleasure with Solomon who was the ruler.I may point out that this was the period of the orgy and the Pagan dance made immortal in the movie "Solomon and Sheba".

The poem or song presents carnal intercourse as a mystery, as well as a obsession. In modern times the mystery has gone, but the obsession has remained. Now all are aware that sex is a clash of bodies and exchange of fluids. There is no magic in it, but the song presents this as a mystery. It represents the mood at that time which was puritan.

All said and done the song is however an exponent of lusty sex, albeit hidden in the love of God for the soul of man.  Probably if this song were written today, like the poetry of Iris Murdoch the verses would have been more open and god may perhaps not have figured.

The song is great literature and it also teaches a lot. If I may add this song is the essence of erotic literature. The message of the song is that the body when in the act of love is all powerful and the centre of everything. The song brings out the power of a physical union as Solomon who is the lover throws away everything in the world to just love his bride. The poem says that Solomon loves deeply and he discovers  and gets a glorious insight into the soul inside his bride. This theme is the beauty of the song and gives the song an eternal look and feel. As per the poet the strength of love (physical) is greater than the forces of death.

Allusions to God

The poem repeatedly brings in God or alludes to him.  These verses are certainly not for the puritan for God in his wisdom invites his beloved to the "house of wine". All around are forests, orchards and figures in temples. What a lovely scenario. One is almost reminded of the Indian temples of Khujaraho, with nude carvings in the most explicit depictions. Wine adds impetus to the act of carnal knowledge and God is pleased. The poem brings out the power of carnal knowledge disguised as a reference to god.

The song brings out the fact that sex is something deeper and in that respect Christianity was way behind Hindu tantra and philosophy, which accepted sex as a path to salvation or moksha. The puritan church in Europe would not allow it and so we have this charade of love of god for the soul. The song is a great way to have a fantasy and reading it with a beloved with a glass of wine is an afternoon well spent.

Last Word

The poem is also a great study of human nature, of passion and desire. These are the qualities that must be allowed to flower and not suppressed. The song plays a central role in fertilizing the imagination which in the main is sexual in nature. For there is no doubt that a physical union is the greatest way to be liberated and that is where Tantra comes in. 

I will close by writing and recommending all to read this song. It is archaic English, but in the company of a girl who understands the language, it can be a great and elevating experience.


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