Sensations of a Kiss
Despite the relative tastelessness of kisses, they are usually referred to as
sweet. Tasting of wine, strawberries and honey are some of the most common
descriptions of lover’s kisses, although some poets are more creative. For
example, The Song of Songs says, "Thy lips drip as the honeycomb, my spouse:
Honey and milk are under thy tongue."
The feeling of a kiss is also described in a multitude of ways, The pounding of
the heart, quivering of the limbs, pain in the chest and quickening of the
breath are some examples of this. The Persian poet Ha-fez, writes that he fears
he will “char her delicate lips” when he writes of kissing his beloved.
The Spirit Within a Kiss
"At what else does that touching of lips aim but at a junction of souls?"
Favorinus of Arles
The Babylonian goddess of love, Ishtar, was said to hold life in her mouth,
offering spiritual delight to those who worshipped her. “That rarest gift, the
honeyed kiss of love/ On earth, is sweeter bliss than gods enjoy,” she tells one
of her followers.
Another example of the use of kisses as an exchange of life force or spirit is
in the Egyptian legend of Osiris and Isis. When Osiris’ jealous brother, Set,
threw him into the Nile, his wife Isis searched for his body in the river and
breathed life into him through a kiss.
The Renaissance saw a rapid rise in the view of kissing as an exchange of souls,
and as an offering of the self to the other person. Allusions to kissing in
poetry included an eternal kiss, a swoon that carried the couple almost to
death, and most importantly, the diffusion of one soul into the body of the
Perhaps one of the most potent notions of kissing revolves around the belief in
its life force and vitality. The Romans particularly believed that kissing a
dying lover would keep the spirit in the body longer. Ovid, particularly, mourns
that his wife will not be able to extend his life with her love because of his
exile. Kisses could even follow the dead into the Underworld as a comfort to the
shades of the dead.
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