by Leonard Cohen

Volume 7 – Issue 1 – Poetry – Leonard Cohen

February 18, 2011 | by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal in 1934. He published his first volume of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956. His early influences included Lorca, Whitman, and Yeats. The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), Cohen’s second volume of poetry, brought him to wider attention in Canada; a number of poems from that book feature in Canadian school textbooks.

In 1963, Cohen published his first novel, the autobiographical The Favourite Game, with a second novel, Beautiful Losers, following in 1966; critics have called it Canada’s first post-modern novel. Since 1967 and the release of Songs of Leonard Cohen, he has concentrated on his musical career, and has recorded eleven studio albums, although he continues to write and publish poetry. His most recent book, Poems and Songs (2011), features a number of unpublished poems, three of which are featured below.

AMEN

Tell me again when I’ve been to the river
And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again when we’re alone and I’m listening Listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again when I’m clean and sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then
Amen, Amen, Amen… Amen

Tell me again when the victims are singing
And the laws of remorse are restored
Tell me again that you know what I’m thinking But vengeance belongs to the lord
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen, Amen, Amen… Amen

Tell me again when the day has been ransomed And the night has no right to begin
Try me again when the angels are panting
And scratching at the door to come in
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me again that you need me then
Amen, Amen, Amen… Amen

Tell me again when the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again when the rest of the culture
Has passed through the eye of the cam
Tell me again when I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again when I’ve seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen, Amen, Amen… Amen

DARKNESS

I caught the darkness
It was drinking from your cup
I got the darkness
From your little golden cup
I said is this contagious?
You said “Just drink it up”

I’ve got no future
I know my days are few
The present’s not so pleasant
Just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
But the darkness got that too

I should have seen it coming
It was right behind your eyes
You were young and it was summer
I just had to take a dive
Winning you was easy
But the darkness was the prize

I don’t smoke no cigarette
I don’t drink no alcohol
I ain’t had no loving yet
But that’s always been your call
And nothing but the darkness
Makes any sense to me at all

I used to love the rainbow
And I used to love the view
I love the early morning
I pretend that it was new
But I caught the darkness
And I got it worse than you

I caught the darkness
I caught the darkness
It was drinking from your cup
I said is this contagious?
You said “Just drink it up”

LULLABY

I can’t break the code
of our frozen love.
It’s too late to know
What the password was.
If your heart is torn,
I don’t wonder why.
If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.
Here’s my lullaby.

Though they twist the news
and the world believes,
we  will live our truth,
be it on our knees.
If your heart is torn,
I don’t wonder why.
If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.
Here’s my lullaby.

Through a net of lies,
oh, I will come to you.
When our dead arrive,
I will salute them too.
If your heart is torn,
I don’t wonder why.
If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.
Here’s my lullaby.

Though it’s much too late,
And we’ve taken our stand.
And they call up your name,
we’ll go hand in hand.
If your heart is torn,
I don’t wonder why.
If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.
Here’s my lullaby.


POEMS AND SONGS

Leonard Cohen

EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY £9.99 245PP
ISBN 978-1-84159-787-4

From this Issue

The King James Version

by Rosemary Goring

From Paisley to Peoria

by Jonathan Murray

Diary

by Alan Taylor

A Higher Language

by Jen Hadfield

The Book Group

by Colin Waters

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