From Heavenly Harmony
My Beloved Spake & Sang unto Me
by Ken Myers
In May and June of 1984, Pope John Paul II gave three homilies exploring the erotic verses of theSong of Songs. The addresses were part of the four-year series of General Audiences developing the theology of the body. In the Song of Songs, said the pope, "The truth about love . . . cannot be separated from the language of the body." And since the language in this setting is poetic, not a lecture on anatomy, various delightful aspects of the body are evoked with imagery from the outdoors: gardens and hills, honey and milk, fruit and spices, lilies and cedars, fawns and doves.
There is a movement in this poetry from the rich variety of the natural world to the contours of two specific bodies to something deeper. The pastoral imagery suggests the bodies of the lovers, but the bodies themselves convey more than flesh and blood, for "love unleashes a special experience of the beautiful," said the pope, "which focuses on what is visible, but at the same time involves the entire person." The delights of the senses "speak of the gift and the self-giving of the person."
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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