The young woman, enthralled with her lover’s presence and delighting their Edenic space, now declares who she is:
I am a rose [asphodel?] of Sharon, a lily of the valleys (2:1).
His words of delight in her beauty lead her to a self-conscious reflection on herself. Positive adoring words breed confidence and echo back to the other with positive adoring words.
What does she say?
She compares herself to a flower — either for its fragrance or its beauty or its erotic shapeliness or its softness — and we are not sure which flowers she means. Most think it can’t be a “rose” since they did not grow in the Land of Israel at that time. It is more likely that “lily” is an accurate translation of the specific flower she uses for herself. It does not really matter that we identify the specific flowers. Precision might help; we don’t have it at our distance. What we have, though, is poetry.
It refers to her blossoming fragrant beauty. She thinks she is beautiful.
He answers back with more praise: “As a lily among brambles, so is my love among maidens” (2:2).
He thinks her beauty outstrips all the others. “You’re the best,” he says to her. In fact, you are a flower and the rest are but brambles. The others don’t stack up, they don’t compare, you are the best.