I’ve written about my Rose of Sharon bush before, but it’s blossoming again and I just had to share a picture… It’s a beautiful plant — a type of hibiscus, apparently — but what’s even more lovely, to my mind, is the transformation from how it looked when we moved in: a leafless, spindly shrub. (Granted, it was the end of November, but given the way the yard looked at that time I assumed there was no way it could be living.)
The name is from the Song of Solomon, one of the Old Testament’s most lyrical books. It’s typically interpreted by Christians as an allegory of Jesus’s love; in the Jewish tradition, it’s about God’s love for Israel. As a nonreligious person, I find the classic medieval interpretation more meaningful: an “ecstatic union of the human soul with God,” in the words of scholar Debora Schwartz.
At any rate, here’s the King James Version:
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.