The Song of Songs (or the Canticle of Canticles) is a collection of love poetry. Still it is consistent and skillfully drawn together by its final editor. The Song is titled as one of Solomon's but it is hardly likely that Solomon is its author. Allusion to Solomon might tell us that the Song could belong to the genre of Wisdom literature such as the book of Proverbs and teh book of Ecclesiastes.
The Song's essence is deeply erotic which has raised questions on its canonicity: How could this kind of a book end to the collection of the Holy Scriptures? It has been widely assumed that the only thing that saved its place in the canon was its allegorical reading. This means that the rabbis would have read the love between man and woman, as the Song describes it in a very erotic way, as love between God and His people, Israel. The earlychurch would have followed the interpretation reading the Song as description of Christ's love to his church.
What makes this possible is the extremely colorful language of the Song. It is full of metaphors which can be interpreted in many ways. For instance, the man calls the woman his sister and bride and describes her breasts as two fawns. It doesn't mean that they look like fawns but their attributes can be as those of fawns: tender, nourishing and fruitful (in Mesopotamian mythologyfawns are linked to fertility godess). And what comes to the allegorical reading, competent reader can think of church as Christ's bride according the the Revelation of John.
After all, the poem itself is beautiful. It represents the typical Hebrew poetry with a phenomenon called parallelism.
It means that two lines are constructed in a parallel way: either saying the same thing in other words or the opposite thing in same style. For example in Song 1:10 (New International Version) the man says: "Your cheeks are beautiful with ear-rings, your neck with strings of jewels."
By being erotic in nature the Song emphasizes love as the utmost of all things. It celebrates love between man and woman, man and nature, and man and his Maker. Every word praises love which is at the same time unreachable. The Song tells actually about yearning to one another, about love that doesn't fulfill. It is a fantasy, a dream about the perfection that only love can bring.
A reader will become convinced on love's supreme reign over everything, even death itself: "... [F]or love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (Song 8:6-7)"
The book is best read in original language, Hebrew, but today's translations are fair enough to deliver an authentic atmosphere of what the Song's actual main character, Love, can do.