TO what shall a woman liken her beloved, And with what shall she compare him to do him honor? He is like the close-folded new leaves of the woodbine, odorless, but sweet, Flushed with a new and swiftly rising life, Strong to grow and give glad shade in summer.
Even thus should a woman’s beloved shelter her in time of anguish. And he is like the young robin, eager to try his wings, For within soft-stirring wings of the spirit has she cherished him, And with the love of the mother bird shall she embolden him, that his flight may avail. A woman’s beloved is to her as the roots of the willow,
Long, strong, white roots, bedded lovingly in the dark. Into the depths of her have gone the roots of his strength and of his pride, That she may nourish him well and become his fulfilment. None may tear him from the broad fields where he is planted! A woman’s beloved is like the sun rising upon the waters, making the dark places light,
And like the morning melody of the pine trees. Truly, she thinks the roses die joyously If they are crushed beneath his feet. A woman’s beloved is to her a great void that she may illumine, A great king that she may crown, a great soul that she may redeem.
And he is also the perfecting of life, Flowers for the altar, bread for the lips, wine for the chalice. You that have known passion, think not that you have fathomed love. It may be that you have never seen love’s face. For love thrusts aside storm-clouds of passion to unveil the heavens,
And, in the heart of a woman, only then is love born. To what shall I liken a woman’s beloved, And with what shall I compare him to do him honor? He is a flower, a song, a struggle, a wild storm, And, at the last, he is redemption, power, joy, fulfilment and perfect peace.