Uncontained beauty

Solomon describes the beauty of his beloved in a neat and symmetrical poem in Song of Songs 7:1-6. Framed by “how beautiful you are” (vv. 1, 6), the poem describes ten features of her body. He starts with her feet and his gaze makes its way up. The ten features are neatly divided into two sets of five: Five between feet and breasts (feet, hips, “navel,” “belly,” and breasts) and five from the neck up (neck, eyes, nose, head, locks). A very Apollonian Beloved she is, neatly boxed.

But her beauty, and Solomon’s passion, cannot be contained . After he closes the poem in verse 6, he keeps going. He marvels at her palm-tree stature, which he longs to climb, and delights in her breasts, which are like a cluster from the palm tree, like a cluster from the vine (vv. 7-8). She won’t stay put in her Apollonian stillness and symmetry. Her beauty sends Solomon and his poem into extra-structural Dionysian ecstasies.

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