Analysis of For E.J.P.

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
WhisperingBomb
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Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:17 pm

Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby WhisperingBomb » Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:27 pm

Hi All,

The second half of my Canadian literature course has allowed me the opportunity to explore some of Leonard Cohen’s poetry (up until now I was only familiar with his music). I recently wrote a short essay on the theme of love in the moment in "closing time" and "You Have The Lovers" (I only got a B+ on it, largely due to formatting errors, proofreading) and now we are being asked to analyze "For E.J.P" if anyone has any interpretations on this poem I'd be glad to hear them, I'm not looking for a complete analysis (that's my job) only clues and directions to the theme and meaning of the poem.

If anyone is interested I can post my essay on the "love in the moment" theme as well to contribute back to the "cause".

FOR E.J.P.

I once believed a single line
in a Chinese poem could change
forever how blossoms fell
and that the moon itself climbed on
the grief of concise weeping men
to journey over cups of wine
I thought invasions were begun for crows
to pick at a skeleton
dynasties sown and spent
to serve the language of a fine lament
I thought governors ended their lives
as sweetly drunken monks
telling time by rain and candles
instructed by an insect's pilgrimage
across the page - all this
so one might send an exile's perfect letter
to an ancient hometown friend

I chose a lonely country
broke from love
scorned the eternity of war
I polished my tongue against the pumice moon
floated my soul in cherry wine
a perfumed barge for Lords of Memory
to languish on to drink to whisper out
their store of strength
as if beyond the mist along the shore
their girls their power still obeyed
like clocks wound for a thousand years
I waited until my tongue was sore

Brown petals wind like fire around my poems
I aimed them at the stars but
like rainbows they were bent
before they sawed the world in half
Who can trace the canyoned paths
cattle have carved out of time
wandering from meadowlands to feasts
Layer after layer of autumn leaves
are swept away
Something forgets us perfectly

Leonard Cohen
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Manna
Posts: 1998
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Location: Where clouds go to die

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby Manna » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:02 pm

You should probably read some Ezra Pound (who I'm pretty sure is not E.J.P.), namely Exile's Letter and In a Station of the Metro, if you haven't already.
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lizzytysh
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Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby lizzytysh » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:15 pm

Not regarding your immediate request, Whispering, but regarding this:
If anyone is interested I can post my essay on the "love in the moment" theme as well to contribute back to the "cause".
... I would really like to read what you've written. I love Leonard's poem "You Have the Lovers" and, of course, who cannot love "Closing Time"?

Best of luck to you with your assignment.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
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~greg
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Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby ~greg » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:49 pm

Ezra Pound
excellent guess!

but it's more likely "E.J.Pratt"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EJ_Pratt
~~

(mp3s of LC reading
http://www.chrismclaren.com/blog/wp-con ... es/lc1966/ )
~~~

(and now i have to go translate "oligos".
(from the Etruscan, presumably.) )
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Manna
Posts: 1998
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:51 am
Location: Where clouds go to die

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby Manna » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:48 am

scorned the eternity of war
but in the mp3, it sounded like he said fraternity.
No of course, EJP is not Ezra, but this poem is undeniably nuzzling him.

Oligo - I don't know how the word is derived. To me it means a very short single stranded hunk of DNA. It's a truncation from oligonucleotide. I'm sure oligo- is used as prefix for other roots as well.
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tomsakic
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Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby tomsakic » Mon May 18, 2009 2:45 pm

Manna wrote: No of course, EJP is not Ezra, but this poem is undeniably nuzzling him.
Well, the whole Montreal school, including their journal CIV/n and early Cohen of course, was under heavy influence of Pound.

Cohen of course was mostly a black sheep, following more often Shelley, Keats and that tradition of poetry, but Pound surely informs his early work, as this poems shows.
seraulu1
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:59 pm

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby seraulu1 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:19 pm

:) :) :) ,

Hi all,

i am new to these forum that's why i cant understand yet the topic but i try
why you say the whole Montreal school, including their journal CIV/n and early Cohen of course, was under heavy influence of Pound?its truth?and by the way thanks for the suggestion that's very helpful too and i hope you well understand my bad English :oops:how to hypnotize people
kalinowt
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:53 pm

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby kalinowt » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:58 am

This is absolutely my favourite Cohen poem of all time. It's the one that "sold" me on Cohen as a great poet, not merely an average one. I love the flowing cadence, lyricism and haunting imagery. On a side bar, I don't see much much of Pound in this poem at all. No driving political agenda, no forced ryhme schemes as a way to offset Pound's free verse. No calling out of the sins of his generation. Pound, at heart, was a Facist seeking to impose a new order on poetry as much as the world. Cohen, on the other hand, has always been a man of the common cause. Much more in tune with socialist ideals and popular revolutions than Facist ideals. I hear in this poem tribute paid to the oriental tradition and the romantics more than the modernists like Pound, Stevens or Eliot. In some other poems, Cohen does get political, but its always coming from either the point of view of his Jewish heritage or a socialist/revolutionary perspective. Cohen never puts himself, or his poetry, above the common cause.
WhisperingBomb wrote:Hi All,

The second half of my Canadian literature course has allowed me the opportunity to explore some of Leonard Cohen’s poetry (up until now I was only familiar with his music). I recently wrote a short essay on the theme of love in the moment in "closing time" and "You Have The Lovers" (I only got a B+ on it, largely due to formatting errors, proofreading) and now we are being asked to analyze "For E.J.P" if anyone has any interpretations on this poem I'd be glad to hear them, I'm not looking for a complete analysis (that's my job) only clues and directions to the theme and meaning of the poem.

If anyone is interested I can post my essay on the "love in the moment" theme as well to contribute back to the "cause".

FOR E.J.P.

I once believed a single line
in a Chinese poem could change
forever how blossoms fell
and that the moon itself climbed on
the grief of concise weeping men
to journey over cups of wine
I thought invasions were begun for crows
to pick at a skeleton
dynasties sown and spent
to serve the language of a fine lament
I thought governors ended their lives
as sweetly drunken monks
telling time by rain and candles
instructed by an insect's pilgrimage
across the page - all this
so one might send an exile's perfect letter
to an ancient hometown friend

I chose a lonely country
broke from love
scorned the eternity of war
I polished my tongue against the pumice moon
floated my soul in cherry wine
a perfumed barge for Lords of Memory
to languish on to drink to whisper out
their store of strength
as if beyond the mist along the shore
their girls their power still obeyed
like clocks wound for a thousand years
I waited until my tongue was sore

Brown petals wind like fire around my poems
I aimed them at the stars but
like rainbows they were bent
before they sawed the world in half
Who can trace the canyoned paths
cattle have carved out of time
wandering from meadowlands to feasts
Layer after layer of autumn leaves
are swept away
Something forgets us perfectly

Leonard Cohen
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mat james
Posts: 1747
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 8:06 am
Location: Australia

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby mat james » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:54 pm

...Who can trace the canyoned paths
cattle have carved out of time
wandering from meadowlands to feasts
Layer after layer of autumn leaves
are swept away
Something forgets us perfectly

"Something forgets"
Beyond this 'Something' (in the last line of Leonard's poem) the mood of this poem is all Paradise; lost and flowing into nihilism.
But interestingly, Leonard still hangs on to 'Something'.
"and 'something' that they are stammering leaves me dying" ("The Spiritual Canticle" by San Juan de la Cruz )

7. All those who are free
keep telling me a thousand graceful things of you.
All wound me more,
and a something I know not
that they are stammering
leaves me dying.

http://srhelena7.blogspot.com/2009/10/s ... ticle.html

Who or what is that 'Something' ?
That is the question.

To be, or not to be, that is the question.
Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
kalinowt
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:53 pm

Re: Analysis of For E.J.P.

Postby kalinowt » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:25 am

I would say off hand it is the greater reality of nature subsuming all human efforts. How many "great poets" have been lost to time and the fall of civilizations, or how many great poets can't we understand because they happen to be part of a linguistic minority, or speak a dead or dying language? For every poem that endures a million more have been lost or forgotten.
mat james wrote:
...Who can trace the canyoned paths
cattle have carved out of time
wandering from meadowlands to feasts
Layer after layer of autumn leaves
are swept away
Something forgets us perfectly

"Something forgets"
Beyond this 'Something' (in the last line of Leonard's poem) the mood of this poem is all Paradise; lost and flowing into nihilism.
But interestingly, Leonard still hangs on to 'Something'.
"and 'something' that they are stammering leaves me dying" ("The Spiritual Canticle" by San Juan de la Cruz )

7. All those who are free
keep telling me a thousand graceful things of you.
All wound me more,
and a something I know not
that they are stammering
leaves me dying.

http://srhelena7.blogspot.com/2009/10/s ... ticle.html

Who or what is that 'Something' ?
That is the question.

To be, or not to be, that is the question.
Mat.

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