Canadian Singer, Songwriter, Poet and Novelist, Ordained as a Buddhist Monk
Leonard Cohen, fully Leonard Norman Cohen
Canadian Singer, Songwriter, Poet and Novelist, Ordained as a Buddhist Monk
They held hands and ran down the hill. Dried leaves splintered under their feet and they tried to step on the piles.
To kiss her there was to intrude into something private and skeletal, like a turtle?s shoulder.
We sold ourselves for love but now we are free. I?m so sorry for that ghost I made you be. Only one of us was real and that was me.
What is the expression which the age demands? The age demands no expression whatever. We have seen photographs of bereaved Asian mothers. We are not interested in the agony of your fumbled organs. There is nothing you can show on your face that can match the horror of this time. Do not even try. You will only hold yourself up to the scorn of those who have felt things deeply. We have seen newsreels of humans in the extremities of pain and dislocation. You are playing to people who have experienced a catastrophe. This should make you very quiet. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Everyone knows you are in pain. You cannot tell the audience everything you know about love in every line of love you speak. Step aside and they will know what you know because you know it already. You have nothing to teach them. You are not more beautiful than they are. You are not wiser. Do not shout at them. Do not force a dry entry. That is bad sex. If you show the lines of your genitals, then deliver what you promise. And remember that people do not really want an acrobat in bed. What is our need? To be close to the natural man, to be close to the natural woman. Do not pretend that you are a beloved singer with a vast loyal audience which has followed the ups and downs of your life to this very moment. The bombs, flame-throwers, and all the shit have destroyed more than just the trees and villages. They have also destroyed the stage. Did you think that your profession would escape the general destruction? There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself. Be in your own room. Do not put yourself on.
With great care he arranged a Kleenex platform inside each shoe. The raised heels up almost to the shoe edges. Faith down his pants. A few pirouettes on the floor and became convinced that it could work. The panic subsided. Once again, the triumphant science? Dance well for half an hour and then the feet began to ache. The Kleenex had moved under the arch of the foot. After two more rampant discs could barely walk. He went to the bathroom and tried to straighten Kleenex, but you were all crushed and crumpled in a compact mass. He thought about taking them off completely, but he imagined the surprise and the horrified look of the rest of the company in view shrunken. He put his foot in the shoe only in half, placed the ball between the heel and insole, pressed strong and knotted the laces. The pain hit him up to the ankles. The train put almost out of action. In the middle of the row, squeezed between the girl who held for life and one that clung to him, with loud and repetitive music, all that chanting one-two, one-two-three with his feet beyond his control because of the pain, he thought, is how it should be hell, an eternal train danced with sore feet, from which you cannot get out.
You know how to call me although such a noise now would only confuse the air Neither of us can forget the steps we danced the words you stretched to call me out of dust Yes I long for you not just as a leaf for weather or vase for hands but with a narrow human longing that makes a man refuse any fields but his own I wait for you at an unexpected place in your journey like the rusted key or the feather you do not pick up.--I WILL NEVER FIND THE FACES FOR ALL GOODBYES I'VE MADE.-For Anyone Dressed in Marble The miracle we all are waiting for is waiting till the Parthenon falls down and House of Birthdays is a house no more and fathers are un-poisoned by renown. The medals and the records of abuse can't help us on our pilgrimage to lust, but like whips certain perverts never use, compel our flesh in paralyzing trust. I see an orphan, lawless and serene, standing in a corner of the sky, body something like bodies that have been, but not the scar of naming in his eye. Bred close to the ovens, he's burnt inside. Light, wind, cold, dark -- they use him like a bride. I Had It for a Moment I had it for a moment I knew why I must thank you I saw powerful governing men in black suits I saw them undressed in the arms of young mistresses the men more naked than the naked women the men crying quietly No that is not it I'm losing why I must thank you which means I'm left with pure longing How old are you Do you like your thighs I had it for a moment I had a reason for letting the picture of your mouth destroy my conversation Something on the radio the end of a Mexican song I saw the musicians getting paid they are not even surprised they knew it was only a job Now I've lost it completely A lot of people think you are beautiful How do I feel about that I have no feeling about that I had a wonderful reason for not merely courting you It was tied up with the newspapers I saw secret arrangements in high offices I saw men who loved their worldliness even though they had looked through big electric telescopes they still thought their worldliness was serious not just a hobby a taste a harmless affectation they thought the cosmos listened I was suddenly fearful one of their obscure regulations could separate us I was ready to beg for mercy Now I'm getting into humiliation I've lost why I began this I wanted to talk about your yes I know nothing about your eyes and you've noticed how little I know I want you somewhere safe far from high offices I'll study you later So many people want to cry quietly beside you.
You've got a deadline. Well, I do, too: death.
Then I start to struggle with a feeble song which will overcome me many miles from home.
They left in front of the cafe table. If you knew the owner in French could have wine in teacups. He had always known that he did not know and that would never come to know it. Worship a pair of legs is not enough. He had never cared to know who was Tamara, but only what it represented. She confessed to him and talked for three hours. I'm sorry, Tamara. I want to touch people as if I were a magician, to change them to hurt them, to leave my mark, they become beautiful. I want to be the hypnotist that does not run the risk falling asleep, too. I want to kiss keeping one eye open. Or maybe I did do that anymore. . I do not want
To the men and women who own men and women those of us meant to be lovers we will not pardon you for wasting our bodies and time.
We used to play music for fun. Much more than now. Now nobody picks up a guitar unless they're paid for it.
What were the bodies like on the beach? Ugly and white and ruined by offices.
Women stand for the objective world for a man. They stand for the thing that you're not and that's what you always reach for in a song.
You live your life as if it's real... a thousand kisses deep.
There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There?s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That?s what dignifies the song. Songs don?t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.
They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within. I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them, first we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
Toward the end of the interview, Cohen reflects on the fuel for his own spiritual machinery as an artist. It?s a sentiment of especial bittersweetness in the wake of Cohen?s death, and one as true of the creative life as of the life of service (which is animated by its own kind of creativity); as true of making art as of fighting for justice:
Well I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one.
When he puts his mouth against her shoulder she is uncertain whether her shoulder has given or received the kiss. All her flesh is like a mouth.
Yeah I missed you since the place got wrecked by the winds of change and the weeds of sex. Looks like freedom but it feels like death. It's something in between, I guess. It's closing time.
You lose your grip, and then you slip into the Masterpiece.
There are no letters in the mailbox and there are no grapes upon the vine. And there are no chocolates in your boxes anymore and there are no diamonds in the mine.
They shook hands and kissed each other when the light was pretty dim, golden filtering through the thorny bushes. Then slowly returned home, no holding hands, but bumping into each other.
Travel: Loving you, flesh to flesh, I often thought Of travelling penniless to some mud throne Where a master might instruct me how to plot My life away from pain, to love alone In the bruiseless embrace of stone and lake. Lost in the fields of your hair I was never lost Enough to lose a way I had to take; Breathless beside your body I could not exhaust The will that forbid me contract, vow, Or promise, and often while you slept I looked in awe beyond your beauty. Now I know why many men have stopped and wept Halfway between the loves they leave and seek, And wondered if travel leads them anywhere ? Horizons keep the soft line of your cheek, The windy sky?s a locket for your hair.
Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth one more thin gypsy thief. Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes I thought it was there for good so I never tried. And Jane came by with a lock of your hair she said that you gave it to her that night that you planned to go clear.