Leonard Cohen, Happy Birthday

I really wasn’t going to post today, but it’s Leonard Cohen‘s 76th birthday, and as I count down the weeks until the Christchurch concert, I’ve just discovered (to my rapturous joy and my wife’s inconsolability) his latest album released last week – Songs From The Road – a cd/dvd package of 12 live tracks performed across the globe during Cohen’s 2008–2010 tour.

And also this poem, ‘I have not lingered in European monasteries’:

I have not lingered in European monasteries
and discovered among the tall grasses tombs of knights
who fell as beautifully as their ballads tell;
I have not parted the grasses
or purposefully left them thatched.

I have not held my breath
so that I might hear the breathing of God
or tamed my heartbeat with an exercise,
or starved for visions.
Although I have watched him often
I have not become the heron,
leaving my body on the shore,
and I have not become the luminous trout,
leaving my body in the air.

I have not worshipped wounds and relics,
or combs of iron,
or bodies wrapped and burnt in scrolls.

I have not been unhappy for ten thousands years.
During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep.
My favourite cooks prepare my meals,
my body cleans and repairs itself,
and all my work goes well.

– Leonard Cohen, ‘I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries’, in Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 18.

So happy birthday Mr Cohen, a man who ‘has a way to betray the revolution’.

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