Imatges de pÓgina

Ver. 9-16.
Virgins. What is thy beloved more than (another) beloved ?

O'most beautiful of women!
What is thy beloved more than [another] beloved,

That so thou dost adjure us?
Spouse. My beloved is white and ruddy,

The chief among ten thousand.
His head is wrought and pure gold:
His locks are bushy-black as a raven.

eyes are like doves by canals of waters
Washed in milk—sitting by the full (pool.]
His cheeks are as beds of aromatics
[As] towers of perfumes.
His lips, lilies dropping liquid myrrh :
His hands, rings of gold set with the társhish :
His body, bright ivory covered with sapphires :
His legs, pillars of marble upon pedestals of gold:
His aspect, like Lebanon, noble as the cedars:
His mouth sweetness itself; yea, he is altogether

This is my beloved, and this is


friend, Oye daughters of Jerusalem. As the first verse is merely introductory, we shall immediately consider the outlines of the description, which contains the following particulars :

First, his countenance, alluding perhaps to that of David when a youth, is said to be white and ruddy beautiful and healthful; elevated,

"Sadi, the Persian poet, describing a celestial appearance, says, it was a 'youth whose colour resembled roses sprinkled • over pure snow by the playful virgins of Circassia.-His • locks were black as ebony.' (Heron's Letters on Literature, p. 436.] Again the same writer, describing a young man, says-He had just arrived at the opening blossom of youth, and the down had but newly spread itself over the flower of his cheek. [Sulivan's Fables from Gulistan, p. 3.]

[ocr errors]

brilliant, splendid:like the standard of an army :-or to drop the figure, he is the chiefthe choicest — among ten thousand'; — His head, with the royal crown, is compared to a jewel of gold of immense' value.




• The chief among ten thousand!' I have preserved this rendering, as it is universally allowed to preserve the writer's general idea. The original term 4127 is by most of the translators and critics rendered vexillatus, a standardbearer, or rather one distinguished by a standard—i. e. he is distinguished from others by his charms, as much as a commander in chief is distinguished by his standard and attendants.

• Under his standard marshall’d are

« Ten thousand youths, but none so fair.' I know that Mr. Harmer has suggested a different interpretation, namely, that of shone upon by 10,000 lamps ;' but I consider it as unsupported, and far less elegant than the above. I have no objection, however, to adopt the suggestion of the ingenious editor of Calmet, (Continuation, p. 114.) who considers the prince as himself the standard, observing that standards were, in the East, a kind of fiery beacon, and quotes Shakespeare's character of Hotspur to illustrate his idea.

• His honour stuck upon him, as the sun
• In the grey vault of heaven; and by his light
• Did all the chivalry of England move

6 To do brave acts. O wondrous him!' There are two words for gold here used-one (ons) supposed to mean stamped, or standard, and the other [10] pure, solid gold. But the former word appears to me to signify gold wrought by the hand of the jeweller, (see Prov. xxv. 12.) and particularly in the form of a coronet or anticnt crown: thus Psalm xlv. 9. Upon thy right hand did stand the

queen in (and) gold of Ophir,' z. e. in a crown of that gold; so in this place I suppose the crown, mentioned in chap. iii. II. particularly alluded to; and that the expression, stripped of its poetic dress, means simply, that he wore a royal crown, which we know was of pure gold, Ps. xxi. 3.



locks are represented bushy and wavy as the palm tree'; black and shining as the raven :-His eyes are compared to doves by channels of waters--to doves washed with milk(or milk-white doves) sitting by the full pool, or pools : --- His cheeks, covered with their manly down, to a bed, or rather beds, of aro-, matics; and to towers or vases of smoking perfumes : :- His lips are compared to the su




[ocr errors]

So the original word (Disbn) evidently means, and is thus explained by Michaelis

. Bp. Percy adds, on the authority of a traveller, that the hair



very aptly com• pared to the fine wavy young leaves of the palm, on their ' first bursting forth from the spatha or sheaths in which • they are contained.' (New Tr. p. 97.) The jettiness of the hair sufficiently proves that the former expression of a golden head could not refer to the use of gold-dust for powder, which indeed cannot be proved of so high antiquity. Nei- . ther could it apply to tinging the complexion with henna, because he is described as white and ruddy.'

? On examining the original word () translated variously rivers, torrents, waterfalls, &c.' 'I am convinced it means rather canals, artificial streams; in order to correspond with which, I supply pool, or pools, as several of Kennicott's MSS. I see read, or have read, the adjective (niwan) in the plural. In referring this term, not to the eyes of the beloved, but to the doves, 1 follow respectable authorities, as Bps. Patrick and Percy, and Mr. Harmer ; and adhere to the oriental style, in a passage already cited (p. 100) from the Gitagovinda, where the poet compares the

eyes of his mistress to a pair of water-birds of azure plumage, that sport near a full-blown itos on a pool, in the season of dew! The phrase washed in milk, however, I consider as describing the doves as milk white, which, though not so common as the grey pigeon in the east, were not the less valuable or esteemned.

3 The word beds is plural in several MSS., the LXX, Aquila, and Vulgate; and the word • cheeks' being plural


perb (red) Syrian lilies, and his conversation to the purest liquid stacte, or myrrh ; referring perhaps to the luscious drops distilled from those flowers'.--His hands and wrists are richly ornamented with rings of gold ::-And his ivory skin covered with a spiendid sapphire robe :.

[ocr errors]

seems to require it. There is no doubt but the beard is here alluded to, and compared to a young nursery of aromatics; but the word rendered towers' is of doubtful interpretation. Mr. Harmer (Sol. Song, p. 165) thinks they were vases in such a shape, containing sweet-waters; but as the word

per: fumes seems to refer, in its use, more particularly to powders, I rather conceive they were a kind of silver pyramids to burn different kind of odours, and which were certainly the most powerful in their fragrancy. It may be added, in illustration of the former member of this verse, that Hafiz, speaking of his cupbearer, describes his cheeks' empurpled garden.'-Notr. p. 35) an image very similar to Solomon's.

His lips like lilies:' the expression intimates the sweetness of his conversation, and alludes, according to Sir Tho. Brown, to the sweet dew-drops observable in the cups of the red lilies, mentioned by Pliny, as so much admired in Syria. That the colour, as well as sweetness of these, is referred to, appears probable from the following allusions in oriental writers:- Him whose lips are like a red lotos in

full • bloom.' (Asiatic Researches, vol. iii. p. 392) How can tulip-coloured wine be compared to the rubies of thy lips ?' (Oriental Col. vol. Il. p. 266).

2. • His hands rings : i. e. in the bold eastern style, covered with rings, and the wrists with bracelets. So Martial calls a hand ornamented with rings, set with the sardonyx, * sardonychata manus. (Ep.xxv. lib. 2.) And an Indian poet sings, my shepherd ! thou art my life: each finger has a

o ring on every joint, and thy arms have bracelets.'° Orient. Coł. vol. II. p. 399. The antiquity of these ornaments may be seen in 2 Sam. i. 10, &c. The Jews say the tarshis was a sea-green: others, that it meant the chrysolite, ii e. gold coloured. The former seems most probable in this place.

3. His body bright ivory covered, &c.' That the spouse could not intend to describe her beloved naked, is to be inferred,


-His legs, marbled with health, (perhaps laced with azure ribbons,) and his feet in golden sandals, are compared to marble pillars upon pedestals of gold':--His aspect is resembled to Lebanon, and his stature to the cedars.,His mouth, that is, his breath, is said to be sweetness itself? ;

and to sum up

all, his

not only from the laws of decency, but from this circumstance, she describes him that they might know him ; besides, it is not usual to have the body naked, when the extremities are so richly dressed and ornamented. Nor will the original (nobya] bear to be rendered inlaid, being uniformly applied according to its radical idea to covering over. (Texit, obtexit, Leigh's Crit. Sac.) A sapphire robe over an ivory skin, then, I suppose to be the object of description; and if it be true, as some pretend, that the antient sapphires were spotted with gold, like the starry heavens, no dress can be well conceived more elegant and superb. As to the word ['vo] here rendered body, and in the preceding chapter bowels, Mr. Parkhurst derives it from (nyp) Magnah, in the sense of lax, loose, which is also the sense of the

kindred verb in Arabic. It generally refers to the internal parts, the bowels, &c. (See Gen. xv. 4. xxv. 23. 2 Chron. xxi. 15, &c.) but in Dan. ii. 32. speaking of Daniel's image, plainly refers to the external form, and is used, as we often use the word body, for the human trunk, exclusive of the extreinities.

1. His legs, pillars of marble;' So Ovid speaks of marble feet (marmoreis pedibus, Amor. l. 2. C. 11). But as the same word in the original signifies fine linen, I am by no means sure that this does not also refer to drawers of fine linen, such as the priests wore.

Bp. Lowth observes the elegance and propriety with which the author compares the king to Lebanon for dignity and grandeur, and afterwards the queen to Carniel for grace


3 His mouth, literally his palate, is here evidently put for his breath, which is said to be sweetness itself, or in the Heb. idiom 'sweetnesses.'

It may be worthy of remark, for the sake of the allegorical application, that • Jt is not un,

and beauty.

« AnteriorContinua »