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Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished.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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mat james
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:36 pm

20 June, 2010.

"summoned"
Our narrator/singer is summoned by his estranged soul (the Stranger). The soul explains that the soul is no stranger to g~d; so in fact it is he, Leonard, who in reality is the 'stranger' in this 'holy game'. Leonard then consents 'to be wrecked a thousand kisses deep'.
Our "Stranger Song" Narrator sings of “you” and “he” (‘…that kind of man’) and ‘stranger’. And eventually he sings of ‘I’.

Who is 'he' and who is 'I'?

It is all very confusing until we realize that this (many of his songs) is an ongoing dialogue between Leonard and his soul. (Songs of Solomon-esq)
At first, that ‘stranger’ is an archetypal persona embedded within each of us (like the soul); this stranger within our psyche moves away from our daily lures (domesticity, work, love etc). In this song it is the ‘stranger’ within ‘who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.’ who is striving through the dark night of un-knowing to move toward the light of understanding; through to a Union with the One (the ‘surrender’).
(Then later in the song, that 'stranger' is Leonard himself; a stranger to his soul and his g~d.)
And this ‘surrender’ re-emerges again in a different format in “A Thousand Kisses Deep”. Here Leonard reflects on that moment of union (surrender) and re-defines it as ‘your invincible defeat’…a thousand kisses deep where he is reminded again that ‘The door is open…… you can't close your shelter’
…It's you my love, you who are the stranger
(Leonard’s soul perhaps, or perhaps his G~d, is telling Leonard’s mind that it is estranged from G~d. His mind inhabiting his body (train, ship, the man wanted in ‘the traffic jam’) is a ‘stranger’ to his G~d, ....but his Soul is not!
So the soul says, ‘It is you my love, you who are the stranger’.
Originally the stranger was the soul; stranger to the mind; but now when Leonard is communicating through his Soul, he looks back to the lost man (Leonard) and says:
“I am the transient traveler; the reflective dweller in your ‘trains’ and ‘boats’ and ‘traffic jams’. I look out through my ‘window’ and watch you; or I open the ‘door’ and commune with G~d. I am no stranger to G~d; …and when you surrender to me, when you are ‘wrecked’ in that ‘invincible defeat’ I carry you to our G~d; ‘a thousand kisses deep’ (..."love goes on and on")
“I made it to the forward deck.
I blessed our remnant fleet
And then consented to be wrecked,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.”

Leonard momentarily beat the odds in this ‘holy game of poker’.
‘You live your life as if it's real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep’.


The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it's done
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it's real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

“Well, I've been waiting, I was sure
we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for”
..Ah you hate to see another tired man
lay down his hand
like he was giving up the holy game of poker
And while he talks his dreams to sleep
you notice there's a highway
that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder
It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder.

You tell him to come in sit down
but something makes you turn around

The door is open…… you can't close your shelter
You try the handle of the road
It opens
….do not be afraid

It's you my love, you who are the stranger

…Well, I've been waiting, I was sure
we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for
I think it's time to board another

I made it to the forward deck.
I blessed our remnant fleet
And then consented to be wrecked,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep:
…I know that kind of man
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone
who is reaching for the sky
…You ditch it all to stay alive,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

… And it comes to you!!......(Leonard understands at last).... HE never was a stranger (estranged from his G~d) because his Soul is "still making love, in my secret life".

Mat.
"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 DBCohen » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi Mat,

As I’ve told Joe on the other page, I regret very much not being able to take part as usual. I’m under a lot of pressure at the moment, and hardly have time to look at the Forum, let alone write meaningful responses. But I’ll do my best to return here, sooner or later.

Yours always,

Doron
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:49 pm

I’m under a lot of pressure at the moment, and hardly have time to look at the Forum,
Wow Doron, that is sad. :(
What is that important in life? ;)

Thanks for saying hello. :)
"There is a season...
and a time for everything under heaven."

Have fun if you can. In the mean time, I'll keep "stammering" to myself. 8)

Regards, Mat.
"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 Gullivor » Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:58 pm

"Tho’ all the maps of blood and flesh
Are posted on the door,
There’s no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for".
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:01 pm

"...There’s no one who has told us yet
What Boogie Street is for".
I'm not so sure about that, little "G". Many have told us, but not too many have an ear for it, Gulliver. Apparently it is not their karma to do so. :neutral:
...and that's O.K.

"We are born to learn how not to be born again." (Fr. Charles Ogada.) or Buddha or Christ or Krishna ....and so on.

In this instance it is Fr. Ogada who makes a play for expounding the purpose of "Boogie Street."
He allows India (Buddha/Hindu) to fill in the gaps of Judae/Christian mythology's frustrating shortcomings. An intriguing read for one who hints at these questions of meaning and purpose, Gullivor.

"We are born to learn how not to be born again." "The play of Karma and Grace."
This article below was a fascinating read for me. It gave me a refreshed perspective/understanding of the concepts (and interplay) of "rebirth" toward enlightenment and eventual "resurrection"/awakening into Godhead/Nirvana; I am Who AM!
My latent Nihilistic impulse (of my mind's god;Reason) is tripped and it staggers, just a little, toward abandonment and an alternative view.

(http://media.radiosai.org/Journals/Vol_ ... rstory.htm)


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 mat james » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:06 pm

I am mulling this one over at the moment.
As usual, I will focus on the possible mystical interpretation.
And what I see is simply what I see; place no importance on my view; it is my folly.

But before I start, I will leave the words/lyrics posted for a few days and you can review your own "mulling" ;)

MatbbgJ


Alexandra Leaving.

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.

It's not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust -
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
Your firm commitments tangible again.

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored -
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked -
Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed -
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.
"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 DBCohen » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:10 am

Mat,

Just a reminder, especially for those we may not be aware of the fact, that this song is partially based on a poem by Cavafy, “The God Abandons Anthony”, as was mentioned several times on the Forum, for example here:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1000&hilit=+alexandra+leaving
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:16 pm

Thanks for the reminder Doron. :)
I have looked into (several times) that translation Jarkko put us onto . It is a beautiful poem (Cavafy's) even in translation.
I am interested in its situation/position in "Ten New Songs" and its mystically-metaphorical implications..
I will be discussing "Alexander Leaving" in the context of the total album and, as always, from that "mystic" perspective.

Sounds like fun!

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 mat james » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:27 pm

The god forsakes Antony

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

- Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
(Also visit the Cavafy site )


Mat’s Commentary on “Alexandra Leaving”:

( Cruz’ “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Spiritual Canticle” are helpful tools here)

For the purpose of a mystical interpretation in the song below I will interpret “Alexandra” as a name Leonard gives to his own soul.
Perhaps he personalizes his soul by naming her Alexandra. In Abraham-ic mystic poetic tradition (from Songs of Solomon onward to the Sufis, as I can see) the individual's soul is feminine and God is masculine. So it follows that Leonard's soul is feminine and perhaps has been given this feminine name, Alexandra.
My suggestion is that the imagery in Cavafy’s poem (Plutarch's story of Marc Antony) led Leonard to saunter off from “this kind of city” to the Sacred City; the Kingdom of God (My Kingdom is not of this world) and only one's soul has the keys to that City.
So it wasn’t Leonard’s mind who/which sauntered off; it was his soul!(his "Alexandra") as it is the job of the soul to communicate with divinity; (not the job of one’s “mind” ).

As always, my commentaries are a bit of a long shot; but they work for me ;)
You, perhaps, have your own interpretation of the song. Please add it below 8) .




Alexandra Leaving.

Suddenly the night has grown colder. (The effect of a ghost/spirit hovering around)
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder, (“Alexandra” = Leonard’s self/god-realized Soul)
They slip between the sentries of the heart. (through the gates of love/Love they unify)

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine; (Unity of soul and god/spirit; beyond )
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine. ( Divine knowing/understanding)

It's not a trick, your senses all deceiving, (senses don’t speak this divine language)
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust -
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving. (/Leonard’s soul deserts him for her Lover; God)
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost. (His soul, “Alexandra”; is “lost” in divinity )

Even though she sleeps upon your satin; (While Leonard sleeps, his soul consorts with God)
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen, (Leonard knew the process, before )
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in. (accept the Spirit of god when it is offered)
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing. (and the soul will know mystic joy)
Your firm commitments tangible again. ( you/he is once again a believer/knower)

And you who had the honor of her evening, (you whose soul has slept with god)
And by the honor had your own restored - (by their intercourse, you have been re-borne)
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving; (recognize that your soul has moved on, now, to god)
Alexandra leaving with her lord. (the Quest is complete)

Even though she sleeps upon your satin; (soul sleeps with you and makes love to god! :) )
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined; (union was not faked)
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked -
Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.
(don’t stoop to “reason” in these moments)

And you who were bewildered by a meaning; (bewildering one’s mind, but not one’s soul.)
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed - (You who have been apostates; working through your own "dark night")
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving. (Let your soul go)
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost. (and it will lose itself in God)

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.
(lost in God; a union which is its destiny)



Before I leave this song, I would first like to reflect on some lines of previous song(s).

“…And O my love, I still recall
The pleasures that we knew;
The rivers and the waterfall,
Wherein I bathed with you.
Bewildered by your beauty there,
I’d kneel to dry your feet.
By such instructions you prepare
A man for Boogie Street….”

“I’d kneel to dry your feet.”
Humility assists one in their passage through life.
Christ taught this through Mary of Magda.

“Wherein I bathed with you.”
I interpret this as a reference to esoteric baptism; the bathing of the individual’s soul in the Great Soul of some Holy Spirit.
I have noticed a bit of a pattern emerging from the collection. It is not simply 10 songs. It appears to me that Leonard has arranged and written each song for a recognizable holistic (mystic) theme. I'll write more on that later.
Of course, that is my take. There are other takes, as always. ;-)

With regard to "Alexandra Leaving", let me say that as I see it, Leonard has used Cavafy's poem/starting-point as a metaphor for something Universal/mystic.
Leonard has not "copied" the idea from Cavafy/Plutarch; rather he has moved off on a tangent from that Cavafy poem; as we all often do when inspired by a piece of work, to think further and let the mind reflect and saunter off; “let the pony have its head”, as they say.

This “bathing” (mentioned above) leads me back to our song, Alexandra Leaving; but leaving where and to where?
After one has bathed in the depths of Shilo (the still deep waters of god): where else is there to go?
Cavafy wrote of leaving old Alexandria, when his Greek community was dispossessed of their homes in Egypt, as I remember it.
I suggest that Leonard is using this leaving from Alexandria as a metaphor; of the individual’s soul leaving (one's temporal body) for the timeless mystical union with the One; our beginning and end (destination).
And again, where does one go from/after that union?

Perhaps, Back to boogie Street. (The lyrics of "Back on Boogie Street" point to this interpretation, in my opinion.)

In the earlier song “You have loved enough”, Leonard says:
“…You kept me from believing
Until you let me know:
That I am not the one who loves –
It’s love that chooses me…”

So he knows/suggests that there is not much he can do now, except return to his old world/life; the life of an artist and man, "back on Boogie Street".
He realizes that it is not him/Leonard who is in control of things/life; “I am not the one who loves – It’s love that chooses me”;
But when he moves back to Boogie Street, Alexandra (his feminine soul) leaves (expands) hand in hand with her Lord; in a sense absent yet ever-present like eternity itself. Therefore Leonard and his feminine soul are leaving with “her” (their) Lord.
Remembering that an individual does not directly communicate with god, he/she must do it through his/her soul (always feminine) and so it is the soul who leaves for the mystic-land (New Jerusalem) with her Lord and it seems to me that Leonard names this soul of his, “Alexandra”.

”Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.”
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Alexandra is lost to this world for she has left with her Lord. (and yet, mystically, the Lord is eternally present)
She is not lost, as in needs to be found. She is lost as in moved from this dimension into communion with the Mystic Lord (“god by participation” as Cruz defines this Undifferentiated Union (Holy Communion) experience).

"Love went on and on, until it reached an open door; and love itself was gone." (as Leonard puts it in "Love Itself" from this album/C.D.)
Or as St. John of the Cross/Cruz puts it, in his poem, Dark Night of the Soul; "...lost among the lilies"

"...I dropped unaware.
Lost to myself and yet remaining,
Inclined so only the Beloved I spy.
All has ceased, all rests,
Even my cares, even I;
Lost among the lilies, there I die."

Perhaps then, like Cruz, Leonard's "Alexandra" is also "lost among the lilies"?
...And perhaps, just maybe; this song sings that Leonard has sought, and, his soul has (been) found.


Mat James. (MatbbgJ)
Last edited by mat james on Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby DBCohen » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:15 pm

Mat,

This is truly one tour de force. Well done! Your interpretation of “Alexandra” as the poet’s soul seems truly striking, and in line with my own interpretation of “The Window” (which I hope to post early next year, once it’s been published; and the window appears in this song to!). I must consider it all again before making further comments, but meanwhile: kudos to you!
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby TineDoes » Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:28 pm

mat james wrote:I suggest that Leonard is using this leaving from Alexandria as a metaphor; of the individual’s soul leaving (one's temporal body) for the timeless mystical union with the One; our beginning and end (destination).
Hi Mat,
I have read your explanation about Alexandra Leaving, with great interest. How well you bring everything togeter and use lines from others songs to explain your points. Great work. Your idea (as far as I understand it) of a soul being feminine (Alexandra) and leaving the temporal body to joining the One, while the person/his temporal body still goes on to live his life in the physical world (Boogie Street), is a difficult one to understand. At the same time I can imagine that this could mean that the peron (Leonard) has become someone who is no longer affected or perturbed by the difficulties of the human world; has become that what I can only imagine 'enlightenment' to be.

On the other hand, Leonard Cohen is such a wonderful writer that it could be argued that he is using Cavafy's poem as a metaphore as you explained and also describe and give advise on a purely human predicament; a love lost to another.

There is a chill of realization when one knows – ones love(r) (Alexandra) is being taken away and has found love elsewhere. You are unable to prevent it happening. It is beyond your control.
The advice is to look at what is happening; the shape of the new love that is taking place.
It is greater than the love you have had.
This loss is real, your senses are not fooling you it is not a dream. You must say goodbye to Alexandra (the love and the woman) and then accept this loss.
Thought she still is close to you, it is a bad strategy to pretend that this is not happening.
Be courageous and go see the joy that this new love is giving Alexandra. Let it sink in.
Honor the time that she spent with you.
Remember how she honored you. Don’t be a coward, don’t try to do anything to prevent it, don’t look for reasons or excuses. You who are baffled and who’s destination has changed: accept!
"There’s no forsaking what you love ...."

Rotterdam 2008; Antwerpen, Dublin 2009; Gent 2x, Lille , Las Vegas 2x 2010, Gent, Amsterdam, Dublin 2x 2012, Antwerp, Berlin, Rotterdam 2013
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby Diane » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:39 pm

TineDoes wrote:
mat james wrote:I suggest that Leonard is using this leaving from Alexandria as a metaphor; of the individual’s soul leaving (one's temporal body) for the timeless mystical union with the One; our beginning and end (destination).
...How well you bring everything together and use lines from others songs to explain your points...
Yes, wonderful explanation, Mat!


I see the song similarly to Tinike. Alexandra Leaving feels to me like an encouragement to face the fearful realisation of the loss of something precious, rather than denying or reinterpreting it. Only from this tender and insecure place of acceptance are you present to both the pain (your love is going/absent) and the beauty (radiance beyond your widest measure, exquisite music, laughing, having your honour restored) of what is happening. This cuts right to the heart of our human predicament.

Just to tackle one verse:

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked -
Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.


'Cause and effect' could be referring to karma, but an additional/related key concept in Buddhism is pratiitya samutpaada, meaning that all things arise in a complex interdependent web of cause and effect, with no first cause. Maybe this verse is cautioning against believing that you, in full command, wrecked this plan; that's it's you who caused Alexandra to leave (and that you can therefore do anything to keep her), because this would just be a comfortable illusion, a coward's explanation.

That reminds me of when Leonard referenced a Hindu text in the I'm Your Man film:
There is a beautiful moment in the Bhagavad Gita Arjuna. The general. The great general. He's standing in his chariot. And all the chariots are readied for war. And across the valley, he sees his opponents. And there he sees not just uncles and aunts and cousins, he sees gurus, he sees teachers that have taught him; and you know how the Indians revere that relationship. He sees them. And Krishna, one of the expressions of the deity, says to him, "you'll never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment. You're a warrior. Arise now, mighty warrior." With the full understanding, that they've already been killed, and so have you. "This is just a play. This is my will. You're caught up in the circumstances that I determine for you. That you did not determine for yourself. So, arise, you're a noble warrior. Embrace your destiny, your fate, and stand up and do your duty."
Buddha wrote:When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
Krishna wrote:You will never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment.
Leonard Cohen wrote:Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby TineDoes » Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:53 pm

Diane wrote:'Cause and effect' could be referring to karma, but an additional/related key concept in Buddhism is pratiitya samutpaada, meaning that all things arise in a complex interdependent web of cause and effect, with no first cause. Maybe this verse is cautioning against believing that you, in full command, wrecked this plan; that's it's you who caused Alexandra to leave (and that you can therefore do anything to keep her), because this would just be a comfortable illusion, a coward's explanation.
Thank you Diane for this '. There's nothing we can do to hold them our loved ones, our children. And thus 'radiant beyond our widest measures, they fall among the voices and the wine'.

Tineke
"There’s no forsaking what you love ...."

Rotterdam 2008; Antwerpen, Dublin 2009; Gent 2x, Lille , Las Vegas 2x 2010, Gent, Amsterdam, Dublin 2x 2012, Antwerp, Berlin, Rotterdam 2013
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Re: The poetry of "Ten New Songs"

Postby mat james » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:42 pm

It is great to hear your views; thanks.
I will continue on my merry way though, of course or I would not be MatbbgJ (matbellybuttongazerjames) 8)

As you guys say, the “purely human predicament; a love lost to another” interpretation is a sure bet. There is no question that Leonard writes on this level you are suggesting and embraces the human to human relationship issues. In fact that is the world most of us occupy and most song-writers sing about; love songs of winning or losing or the unrequited type. But I feel he uses these situations almost as parable. I suggest there is another layer of meaning to his work as well as what you rightly interpret.
I tend to look for more from Leonard though, as I don’t see him as an ordinary poet writing about the mundane all the time. I suspect there is a spiritual element to his work that follows a tradition; the mystic tradition. And I suspect that much of what he sings appeals to our unconscious; so I try to fathom why this is so.
Of course, I may be deluded and over-rate this fellow, Leonard. Perhaps he is only interested in human relationships. In this case, my attempts at understanding his work on a deeper level are misguided and wishful thinking (more a comment on me than him, perhaps)and, Diane, so too are my attempts at understanding the Bhagavad Gita (Leonard reads and quotes so effortlessly) on a deeper level also. The Gita must simply be a story about a family squabble.
Perhaps the Gita is not about the journey of a soul being guided by an enlightened being; but is merely a story about a warrior being chauffeured around by a charioteer who has sympathy for this guy with a dysfunctional family. ;-)

D.B. and I have sparred over my spiritual conspiracy theories regarding Leonard’s work several times and I do feel a bit like a lunatic “waiting for godot” at times. But it is fun and I thank you all for patiently reading my energetic “tour de force” as D.B. called it.
I get on a roll, I see things, and then the mystic calls.
Why do I stand by "The Window" with the spear of the age in my side, pursuing a high holy course and move through "the open door"; Why "I set out" through the night, get caught in an undertow, get ditched on the beach...what beach???but I did not know; yet my "firm commitments are tangible again".

Thanks for being here in my hours of need/fantasy/delusion/mystery.

Mat.
"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 10, 2010 1:16 am

Well blow me down with a feather, Mat. LC writes on more than one level including the spiritual does he? Who'd have thought! ;-)

I may be wrong, but I think the mundane is important to this song. Remember that LC wrote TNS after he had been a Zen Buddhist monk for four years. The mundane is spiritual fodder - it's where you begin. "Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving, then say goodbye to Alexandra lost" even sounds like a poetic expression of an instruction a teacher might give in the meditation hall, of how to deal with the mind's arisings. Alexandra could be a lover, or anything you might try to hold onto (and ultimately, your self/soul, yes!), and we unthinkingly attempt to solidify our experience so much of the time, 'stooping to strategies', with 'cowards' explanations' or whatever story we may spin for ourselves, so this is a big deal from a spiritual pov.

What I think is remarkable about this song is that it sweeps you through from the mundane to the spiritual; from the lower level interpretation to the higher, not just by containing both (and Mat you well describe the latter) but by pinpointing the moment when you realise the night has grown colder, by taking away your 'anchors' (those stratagems and ruses you use), instructing you to say goodbye, and propelling you into the moment (go firmly to the window, drink it in). It is a pulling of the rug from under your feet while at the same time presenting the joyful reward.

I could be talking nonsense of course. But it's fun anyway, as you say:-)

OK, on with your mystic/mystified musings. Nos da.

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