The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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Diane
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:39 pm

Tchoc wrote:Leonard Cohen always seemed to me like the Houdini of Despair.
I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
One of the tracks on Robert Plant's latest album concludes with a beautiful verse in Welsh taken from the14th century poem Marwnad yr Ehedydd (Death of the Lark).


Mi glywais fod yr 'hedydd,
Wedi marw ar y mynydd;
Pe gwyddwn i mai gwir y geiriau,
Awn a gyrr o wŷr ac arfau,
I gyrchu corff yr 'hedydd adre.


I heard that the lark,
Has died on the mountain;
If I knew these words were true,
I would go with a group of men and arms,
To fetch the lark's body home.



Those words somehow remind me of Here it Is, and Love Itself, and Alexandra Leaving, on TNS. LC moves us from the raven to the lark. The lark is a symbol of the morning, and unlike other birds, it sings as it flies.

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby imaginary friend » Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:12 am

Matt, Diane, Tchoc, Derek Walcott et al.

Thank you for these gifts. I've been away too long from home.

xo
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mat james
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:34 am

"the Houdini of Despair"

Tchoc, I think that is the most wonderful definition of Leonard Cohen that I have come across.
I assume it is original Tchoc poetry?

I suppose Cohen would suggest that it was his "longing" that made him desperate (despair) and g~d's "mercy" (communion) that gave him his Houdini-like escapes from that restless and agonizing longing. Ten New Songs (this album we are discussing) is post "mercy" and, for me at least, a commentary on that fortunate new frame of mind he found himself in after the blessing he received from "Who was waiting there was hunting me"; his G~d...
...and the "Lark", Diane, in this context, is Hope; as Poe's Raven is Hopelessness (Ravens also "fark/sing" when they fly ;) ). The Lark, for the Welsh perhaps, is not just "hope", but soulful hope; connection with their spiritual and ancestral past. It is perhaps the conduit of Consciousness for that Celt (poet).
The Lark seems a wonderful mythic image of the collective soul of these 14th century Celts...and perhaps the Lark also symbolized their freedom and independence which was lost under British/English rule; but this poem, like Leonard's work, allows for "hope" to nestle in there amongst the despair and longing, as the poet doesn't quite believe the Lark has perished completely,

"I heard that the lark,
Has died on the mountain;
If I knew these words were true"

...and that is where Leonard always takes us in his more despairing moments...he hasn't quite given up yet!
...and neither should we (his songs suggest).

And Choc's line, "the Houdini of despair", is simply magic...poetry.

Go the Lark!!!!


MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Diane
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:29 pm

It's always a pleasure to see you, Imaginary!
mat james wrote: ...and the "Lark", Diane, in this context, is Hope; as Poe's Raven is Hopelessness (Ravens also "fark/sing" when they fly ;) )
Hi Mat:-) Ha, yes they do! But they sound so grumpy compared to the meoldious lark!

I was hearing that amazing verse from Marwnad yr Ehedydd (thought to be inspired by Owain Glyndŵr who valiantly attempted to overcome English rule in the C14th) at the same time as Popular Problems, and it became LC-imbued.

Mi glywais fod yr 'hedydd,
Wedi marw ar y mynydd;
Pe gwyddwn i mai gwir y geiriau,
Awn a gyrr o wŷr ac arfau,
I gyrchu corff yr 'hedydd adre.


I heard that the lark,
Has died on the mountain;
If I knew these words were true,
I would go with a group of men and arms,
To fetch the lark's body home.


Hear it here, sung by Julie Murphy at 3 mins 45: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0uiU7pKBDQ

Or Bryn Terfel's version of the entire poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ7YlAtLxZg

I don't disagree with your interpretation, but to me it is simply a giving in to the fact that the lark (symbol of the new day) never dies; that arising and vanishing go on without ceasing. From that it may follow that "I", too, "am the one who keeps changing from nothing to one".

Maybe LC wrote TNS under the influence of being able to deeply and fully experience the enchantment of every second; from the direct knowledge of life as a recurring epiphany. And maybe that's the mercy (for the precariousness of our human position) that he is describing particularly in Here it Is, Alexandra Leaving, and Love Itself.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Tchocolatl » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:54 am

I guess that I have to assume either, now that it is done. (I would be in great mental jeopardy if I begin to deny my posts around here.)

Whatever.

I did it.

Guilty, your Honour.

Next.

Now, what is the use of trying to learn a language that changes so much from century to century? Tell me! Slow like I am. Shakespeare himself would not find his kitten.

Pfff.... Seems more like the season of the raven to me, the 2000+.
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Tchocolatl » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:35 am

Snif. Fresh air. Bright sky. Well.

By Raven, let say the trickster. Oeuf Corse...

http://www.northwest-art.com/NorthwestA ... eLight.htm

and other tricksters, if you wish.
http://www.native-languages.org/trickster.htm

*

Don't care about my (so) light digression. Too much.




Let's get back to the River's Dark (oh! yeah...) like if I was not there.
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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mat james
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:42 am

Well, that link sheds new light on the Raven(s). ;-)
I like the term "trickster", tchoc; it seems non-judgmental; in a nature/natural sort of way. It seems to allow us to enter into a new perspective.
I read once that "Truth" was either delusion or illusion; maybe the "trickster" assists with the break-out from either (subjective?) construct and move back to Nature and objectivity; (and I don't mean just science).
...and then there is the Life of Pi; and the need to break into illusion/delusion and away from objectivity...or go mad.
Love those Ravens
Love those "Rivers Dark".

Diane suggests another "trickster"
"...And maybe that's the mercy (for the precariousness of our human position) that he is describing particularly in Here it Is, Alexandra Leaving, and Love Itself."

Thanks Tchoc and Diane, I am now completely confused.

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:35 am

Lewis Carroll wrote:
Why is a raven like a writing desk?
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:33 pm

Why is a raven like a writing desk?
I like this answer below I found on Wiki:

because, "Poe wrote on both,"

Ha! That is so clever!
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:37 pm

I hadn't heard that one Mat:-)!
mat james wrote:I like the term "trickster", tchoc; it seems non-judgmental; in a nature/natural sort of way. It seems to allow us to enter into a new perspective.
I am reading an entertaining book by Michael Foley at the mo where he talks of tricks (he uses the term 'ruses') we can use on ourselves to enter into the ordinary - to "subvert the quotidian by slyly embracing it." Art is one of the tricks, he says.

Another, reading books:
Foley wrote:As well as the intellectual pleasures of reading, there is also the physical pleasure of sensuous contact, first with the book itself and then with its author. There is the heft of the book in the hand, its enveloping fragrance when opened, the texture and compliance of the pages when riffled and the upright austere black of print. Then there is the even more rich and complex contact with the author. This is most intimate at night when the home is dark and the only illumination is from the accomplice of the solitary truth seeker, an anglepoise lamp. Grasp the lamp and direct its cone of light until it fits, lying softly on the shoulders like a golden prayer shawl.
And what of the trick of logging in here, with nothing visible but one's concentrated facial expression illuminated by a hopeful little screen late at night, one's mind all at once forgetful of the day's events and intent on communicating with another glowing face some tens, or tens of thousands of miles away. Haha.

Foley wrote:Nothing is less known than what seems familiar.
The ordinary is always the exceptional in disguise.
The same is never the same.
Anonymity is divinity.
Everything happens when nothing is happening.
Silence is the eloquent voice of God.
Immerse to transcend.
Detach to engage.
Awaken to dream.
Be odd to get even.
Be secret to open.
SUBVERT THE QUOTIDIAN BY SLYLY EMBRACING IT.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:18 pm

Hi Diane,
The ordinary is always the exceptional in disguise.
...well that is a great definition of the word "quotidian". ;)
I have never heard of Michael Foley; but what he says is very mundane for a subversively quotidian type of guy!
All jokes aside, he seems to be onto something. We all need to re-evaluate our "being in the moment" mind set, I suppose.

And back to our topic, Ten New Songs... well not quite!
Check this out; it just landed in my email (by strange coincidence) a few minutes ago.
http://wallythekat.tripod.com/A_Pages/A ... stein.html

We are not alone in these rational Rivers Dark.

I think we have waited for comments from others long enough, regarding "My Secret Life".
I'll move into "The Land of Plenty" soon, though it is rather "quotidian" (what a strange word, I haven't come across it before) as tchoc was implying recently.
Nine down, one to go.

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Tchocolatl » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:42 am

Go West young man!

(Diane, you sound like Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who studied legends and other stories that people are telling to themselves, and others, to explain the world as it is experienced - as experiences change with time, there go the stories and legends with them, like a second skin. Your legend is original and surprising. I never think about my face or other people's face when writting here or human hope or expectation of some sort : I am always only pure spirit and keyboard sociolazing with kins.)
***
"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Diane
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:23 am

I never doubted that You are pure spirit, Tchoc! (With purple hue.) The face thing is just an example of seeing the familiar in a novel way - I don't mind being compared to Ms CP Estés, though.

That crow clip is fantastically impressive, Mat. And yet, the chap running the experiment said the bird was familiar with the individual parts of the puzzle. Didn't it "solve" the task via trial and error rather than by having a complex cognitive strategy?

The Land of Plenty doesn't ring any particular bells for me, so I will refrain from getting tangled up in any more words for now...
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:04 pm

The Land Of Plenty"

Don’t really know who sent me
To raise my voice and say:
May the lights in The Land of Plenty
Shine on the truth some day.

I don’t know why I come here,
Knowing as I do,
What you really think of me,
What I really think of you.

For the millions in a prison,
That wealth has set apart –
For the Christ who has not risen,
From the caverns of the heart –

For the innermost decision,
That we cannot but obey -
For what’s left of our religion,
I lift my voice and pray:
May the lights in The Land of Plenty
Shine on the truth some day.

I know I said I’d meet you,
I’d meet you at the store,
But I can’t buy it, baby.
I can’t buy it anymore.

And I don’t really know who sent me,
To raise my voice and say:
May the lights in The Land of Plenty
Shine on the truth some day.

I don’t know why I come here,
knowing as I do,
what you really think of me,
what I really think of you.

For the innermost decision
That we cannot but obey
For what’s left of our religion
I lift my voice and pray:
May the lights in The Land of Plenty
Shine on the truth some day.


Well, to be honest, I don't find anything in this song that interests me.
Maybe I am missing something, maybe there is a mystical element, but I can't find it.
It is, more or less, a full stop.
The songs have been sung, (and what great songs they are)
the album, Ten New Songs, is finished;
time to move on for Leonard
and me.

Thanks to all those who contributed on this thread; I had a ball searching and discovering and listening and learning a bit more about all things Leonard.

Please feel free to add your comments about this 10th and final song and let me know what I am missing.

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Diane
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:53 pm

Mat, you have been a mainstay of some marvellous discussions in this place.

As we are not finishing with something from The Land of Plenty, how about this beauty from the land of nothing at all:


Tighten
to nothing
the circle
that is
the world's things

Then the Naked
circle
can grow wide,
enlarging,
embracing all


- Hadewijch II
(another) C13th mystic.


---

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