What is Love? Robert Frost once wrote “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Love is one of the strongest emotions we feel, yet it is the hardest emotion to ever be understood. “The Song of Songs” by Ellen Gilchrist, explores the theme of love, particularly a mother’s love for her child, and the impact it has on one woman specifically, Barret Clare.
In Gilchrist’s short story “The Song of Songs” Barret Clare is a woman who has never felt the touch of her birth mother, who left her for adoption shortly after her birth. The older she gets the more she craves to meet her mother. Yet when Mrs. Clare gets news that her mother has put forth effort to find her, emotions run high and she wants more than ever to be reunited with her birth mother. Being left as a baby seemingly had a huge impact on Barret Clare’s life as she feels there is a void in here life ever since her mother left her “I was alone when I was born and I have been alone ever since. (pg 234)” Mrs. Clare feels abandoned and alone left to wonder about a past she hardly remembers. She felt unwanted as a child with more questions than anyone could ever answer. These days, all she could dream of is to look her birth mother in the eyes and hug her. She has no questions and needs no answers these days. A whole heart as well as a newly found love is all she needs.
Not only does Barrett’s mother Amanda McCamey feel horrible about leaving her daughter at birth, but she feels an emptiness that can only be fulfilled by reuniting with her daughter. When Mrs. McCamey at last contacts her daughter she says. “..I am your mother. Oh, forgive me, oh, my God, forgive me. I need you so terribly dreadfully much. Will you talk to me? Will you let me talk to you? (pg 235)” Mrs. McCamey shows desperation for the forgiveness and love of her daughter Barret. She asks for forgiveness; not only forgiveness for losing her, but forgiveness for waiting all of these years to bring her back.
As if nothing else matters on this Christmas morning in New Orleans, upon getting the long awaited phone call, Barret Clare does not question why her mother left her, what she has been doing all this time, or even what took her so long to make contact, but immediately yearns to be reunited with her long lost mother. Barret tells her “I’m coming as soon as I can pack a bag and leave. I look like you. Yes, I think I look like you. We will look in a mirror. The two of us. We will look at one another. Tell me where you are. How to get there. How to go. (pg 236)” There is an indescribable forever love between a mother and her child. It goes both ways and never ends. Eternal love can only be explained as this exactly.
Mrs. Clare never questions her own love for her mother and never even blames her for anything aside from the emptiness she has felt for her whole life. This shows that her love for her mother is unconditional that despite being apart for so many years she still loves and longs to be with her mother. Before departing from New Orleans with her son Charlie, Mrs. Clare seems to finally be at peace with herself for once in this story “ I exist, she was singing inside her head. I am here. I am really here. Everything that happens from this day forward will be better. Whatever happens next will be better and better and better. (pg 237)” All of her prayers have been answered and her dreams are coming true.
“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Nothing demonstrates this more than the love between this mother and daughter in “The Song of Songs.” The story ends with the two reuniting, happy as ever. The daughter’s only cry in life was the burden of wanting to feel wanted.
Gilchrist, Ellen. “The Song of Songs.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and
Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 233-237.