The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible

Mar­cia Falk, trans.; Bar­ry Moser, illus.
  • Review
By – August 20, 2012

Pro­fes­sor Falk took the world’s most beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful and mys­te­ri­ous col­lec­tion of ancient love poet­ry and made it more beau­ti­ful, more pow­er­ful and less mys­ti­fy­ing. Her sen­si­tive, evoca­tive Eng­lish trans­la­tion hon­ors the Song’s non­sex­ist expres­sion of erot­ic love, usu­al­ly between a man and a woman, ren­dered through these stanzas. 

God isn’t men­tioned direct­ly, just indi­rect­ly at times through imagery inspired by the nat­ur­al world. The nat­ur­al world also inspired the smat­ter­ing of illus­tra­tions by Moser — a bird, a horse, a leop­ard, a palm tree, a pome­gran­ate burst­ing with fertility. 

No one knows the true ori­gins of this only book of poet­ry in the Bible; most like­ly, more than one author deserves cred­it. The Song of Songs can be con­fus­ing, with its shift­ing back­drops and voic­es. Falk untan­gles some of the con­fu­sion by using dif­fer­ent type­faces to indi­cate who is speak­ing: Roman type for a female voice, ital­ic for a male voice, and bold­face to indi­cate an uniden­ti­fi­able voice or a group of voices. 

Part of the Bran­deis Series on Jew­ish Women, this slim vol­ume makes a per­fect engage­ment gift and would be trea­sured by any­one who appre­ci­ates great poet­ry from a schol­ar­ly or an emo­tion­al perspective. 

Falk was a Ful­bright Schol­ar and Post­doc­tor­al Fel­low in Hebrew lit­er­a­ture and Bible at the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem. She has been a pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish, cre­ative writ­ing, Hebrew lit­er­a­ture, and Juda­ic stud­ies at SUNY Bing­ham­ton and oth­er universities.

Robin K. Levin­son is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author of a dozen books, includ­ing the Gali Girls series of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion for chil­dren. She cur­rent­ly works as an assess­ment spe­cial­ist for a glob­al edu­ca­tion­al test­ing orga­ni­za­tion. She lives in Hamil­ton, NJ.

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