THE SONG OF SONGS PUT AT THE CENTRE OF LONGINGS THE ASPIRATIONS TO TRUE LOVE IRRADIATING FROM GOD, AND THE EARLIER MONKS HAD NO PROBLEM WITH THAT.
“The Song of Songs is a poem. Do not at first try to understand: let the text take hold and it will open up a universe to us. The Song awakens our own experience, going straight to the heart since it is about the Lover and the Beloved. It is a poem about a love encounter. The author let this encounter happen as in a dream in order to unveil its mystery; the call of love comes from elsewhere. Search, meeting, flight are enchanting and are true inasmuch as they reveal a mystery: Someone else draws us. This explains the title of the book: The Song of Songs. In Hebrew, it is one of the forms of the superlative: The Song par excellence or the Sublime Song. In the Song, just as in the great prophets, although with different words, the experience of God-Love is what inspired the entire dream and what invited human images.
The Song is not a song about human love which was put in the Bible after having received a religious interpretation: Jewish tradition considered it to be the song of divine love from the beginning. The fact that God is not mentioned is intentional: he is present from beginning to end, but this One Alone at the same time Love and Lover is far different from the “God” of human religions. In Christian countries, the monks took possession of the Song. They who had given up human love passed over the mystery of the love encounter in ordinary life. They saw the song as an allegory, a picture of spiritual experience. The expressions of carnal love in no way embarrassed them: it helped them to understand how strong the love relationship with the One Alone can be, how heady and devouring.
In fact they were to give back to Christianity a treasure they had found. The Song reread and commented by the monks gave rise to awareness of the mystery of love. The love songs and stories, fairly crude at the beginning, were gradually replaced by the literature of ‘courtly love’. From then on, century after century, the primacy of married love would be affirmed. At times, it is said rather cynically that love ends in marriage and that is what movies and television never cease to repeat whenever a decadent culture only acknowledges love when it promises but fleshly gratification and things it will not fulfil. The Song of Songs put at the centre of longings the aspiration to true love: this always irradiates from God and, like himself, is faithful until death and beyond.”