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Sunday, 15 July 2007

"No contradiction between the sensual and the spiritual"

I have always found comfort in the opportunity and permission to be devotional about sensuality and about the wonders of erotic love. The Song of Songs serve as a wonderful purpose in that regard. As a poem of sensuality it is exemplary and instructive. As a poem rooted in the use of metaphor it is a study in how to and how not to do it. As an example of a beautifully shaped narrative poem that employs refrain and counter point to create a dynamic of drama and aural beauty, it is a splendid example. But I have to return to the most critical value for me--that I like it for the permission it gives me to embrace the sensual. How the reggae artists got to that place of seeing no inherent contradiction between the sensual and the spiritual can be traced to many things, not the least of which would be the multiple cultural sources that fed Rastafarianism-—from African to India. However, what I do know is that in many of the great reggae songs, this quality is present. It is a similar spirit that I see in the Song of Songs and it is this quality that I am grateful for each time I read it.

--Kwame Dawes on the biblical Song of Songs.

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