Tuesday, November 27, 2007

4. An Enclosed Garden Was An Idyllic Environment For Lovemaking
Not only was a garden a poetic metaphor for both a woman's body and the female sex organ; the idea of an enclosed garden had another meaning. It was also a widely held concept in ancient times that gardens were an idyllic place for making love.

Persian pleasure gardens, in life and in art, influenced the European association of enclosed gardens with love. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, paradise comes from the Persian pairi-daeza, "enclosed park" (See under 'paradise', SB.; Pearshall and Salter, Landscapes, page 24 n. 5. ). C.S. Lewis acknowledged that the garden does celebrate a genuine idealization and civilizing of sexual passion.

William Blake wrote a famous poem entitled "The Garden of Love," expressing Blake's belief in the naturalness of sexuality. Blake attacked organised religion for repressing our natural desires.A garden functioned as an extra room in households of nobility, one which offered both pleasure and privacy. In mediaeval physiology, and in mediaeval poetry, the return of spring was associated with the approach of love.

Solomon was famous for his elaborate gardens, pleasure-grounds, and pools. We read about this in Ecclesiastes 2:4-10:

I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.

I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.

So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyesdesired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor.

According to Easton's Bible Dictionary:

It [Etam] seems to have been in the district called Nephtoah (or Netophah), where were the sources of the water from which Solomon's gardens and pleasure-grounds and pools, as well as Bethlehem and the temple, were supplied.

Some say that one of the keys, if not "the" key, to understanding the meaning of Adam and Eve's transgression is to understand the meaning of the Song of Songs.