This sonnet is based upon Proverbs 5:7-23 in which Wisdom’s first attribute is loving faithfulness (Proverbs 3:5,6). The loving faithfulness of Wisdom is likened to a young man’s love for his wife. By contrast the young man is warned away from Folly, the adulteress.
In the sonnet I make use of Song of Solomon’s description of the beloved as a dove who hides among the cliffs, and I play with George Herbert’s use of “wild” and “wold” from his poem, “The Pilgrimage“.
The Proverbs passage is below as well as recording of me reading the sonnet.
And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, 10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, 11 and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, 12 and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! 13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. 14 I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.
And now sons, to my words listen, do not stray;
Do not draw close to loose love’s door
Lest you pour out your life, become Folly’s prey
And look back on your days to bitterly abhor.
But do stray, stay here among your lillies’ love
Along green banks between passion and promise
With your lovely dear, your secret highland dove
Who is your well’s fullness, flowing spring, and solace.
Why then my heart, do you wander exiled
In furtive fancies from wood to wild wold
Where so easily entangled, deceived, and beguiled
To die of exposure lost, lonely, and cold?
Lord, before you I stand, you see and ponder all
Make my heart to love Wisdom, to delight in her call.