“As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks” (Song of Solomon 6:7)
CAT 54. Jacob van der Heyden. “As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks” (Song of Solomon 6:7) in Daniel Sudermann, Hohe geistreiche Lehren und Erklärungen: uber . . . desz Hohen Lieds Salomonis. Frankfurt: Eberhardt Kieser, 1622, p. 48. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.
Here the beloved queen is alone in a compact, expansive landscape. Her long hair is arranged in double braids that echo the triangular form of her robe. The deep black shadow immediately beneath her contrasts with the ever brightening patterns of light into the distance. The bridge in the left foreground carries the eye to the mill wheels at the foot of the precipitous, towered town on the well-cultivated hill—and then away with the serpentine stream into the distance. The sloping foreground includes one object whose potential for explicit Christian allegory will be activated in CAT 55.
This engraving corresponds to the solitariness of the Song of Solomon 6:1 (“Whither is thy beloved gone, / O thou fairest among women?”), to the topography of verse 6:2 (“My beloved is gone down into his garden, / into the beds of spices”), to the adulation of verse 6:4 (“Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirza, comely as Jerusalem”), to the imagery of verse 6:5 (“Thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead”), and to the question of verse 6:10 (“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?”).
The portion of the Germanic text visible to Melville on the verso of the image begins a new commentary on verse 6:8, “There are threescore queens, and forescore concubines, and virgins without number” (“Sechtzig ist der Königinnen / und achtzig der Kebsweiber und der Mägden is kein zahl”). The previous verse from canticle 6 is featured in the inscription for the picture itself: “As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks” (6:7).