the book of longing

Leonard Cohen's 'Book of Longing' with bird in a tree cover drawing

As the world mourns the death of legendary songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen, his art lives on.

The Hallelujah singer’s death last week sparked a massive outpouring of grief across the internet, from fans and fellow musicians alike, including Beck, Courtney Love, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Nick Cave.

“For many of us, Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate, no matter how hard we tried,” Cave wrote.

News of Cohen’s death, coming on the heels of the US presidential election results, was also praised by tweeters as the singer’s last compassionate corrective to hateful political chatter, bringing the world’s attention back to the redeeming beauty of art.

“The date of Leonard Cohen’s death is not a coincidence,” went one widely shared tweet. “He did it so we’d stop talking about an imbecile, and instead focus on poetry.”- Sydney Morning Herald

Leonard Cohen made his name as a poet before he came to worldwide attention as a singer and songwriter.

He wrote the poems in Book of Longing his first book of poetry in more than twenty years during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California’s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author’s playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous. An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen’s artistry with language worldwide recognition. – Book Depository

The poems in Book of Longing show the full range of one of the most influential and enigmatic writers of his generation.

The book of longing

I can’t make the hills
The system is shot
I’m living on pills
For which I thank G-d
I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart
I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night penciled in
My animal howls
My angel’s upset
But I’m not allowed
A trace of regret
For someone will use
What I couldn’t be
My heart will be hers
Impersonally
She’ll step on the path
She’ll see what I mean
My will cut in half
And freedom between
For less than a second
Our lives will collide
The endless suspended
The door open wide
Then she will be born
To someone like you
What no one has done
She’ll continue to do
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book – Leonard Cohen

Who do you think should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?

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7 thoughts on “the book of longing

  1. LOVE THIS: “The date of Leonard Cohen’s death is not a coincidence,” went one widely shared tweet. “He did it so we’d stop talking about an imbecile, and instead focus on poetry.”- Sydney Morning Herald. Thanks for posting! Bronte

    Liked by 1 person

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