Part of a series I’m working on about some biblical stories.
The Pharaoh’s Daughter was the wife of Solomon. Solomon, king of Jerusalem, who desired wisdom above all else, had a harem of a thousand wives and concubines, a feat rivalled maybe only by Genghis Khan? I dunno, but it seems excessive. Apparently it was his love of women that ended up being Solomon’s downfall.
The Pharaoh’s Daughter is the only wife named in the story, although that’s probably not the name on her driver’s license.
Here she is, in a lament that owes a debt to William Carlos Williams’ The Widow’s Lament in Springtime, and to the story in Kings, and to my own misgivings about forgoing relationships in search of wisdom
Lament of the Pharaoh’s Daughter in Summer Even when you are around you’re not here. I may have your eyes, at times, never your ear. I have looked down the bottom of wells for you. Asked sunsets what to do. The sun in the afternoon is muggy and unbearable. Nor ice, nor dripping reeds hung from windows will cool, but the heat keeps me from being able to miss you. Only in evenings do I know the same sorrow as widows and a dying like the sun’s dying going down again and again. You’ve built magnificent houses but do not know how to live in them. When will your searching end? When will this yearning ripen into wisdom, that you may be done with learning and return to a family and to me? O when, my love, O when? Knowledge will not warm a bed. It does not take children to the park, or kiss a forehead. Knowing will not sooth the morning I wake and find you’ve left for good, having understood some revealed truth. Wilderness is all that knowledge knows, and all that satisfies. It ventures into woods unceasingly. It strikes out to map and civilize and breeds, in cities it leaves behind, contemptuous familiarity. Next to knowledge I am nothing but a name, something to check back on, to be reassured nothing out of the ordinary has changed. Only the same want for affection, only desires, unfulfilled, remain.