Book of Mercy #41-45

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
DBCohen
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Book of Mercy #41-45

Postby DBCohen » Wed May 06, 2009 8:07 am

It’s time to start a new thread in the ongoing discussion of BoM. This is the 11th thread so far, if I’ve counted correctly, and I hope its freshness would draw more people to the discussion (although looking up at least some of the earlier threads is advisable for the uninitiated). So here is the next installment:
II. 41
I look far, I forget you and I’m lost. I lift my hands to you. I kneel toward my heart. I have no other home. My love is here. I end the day in mercy that I wasted in despair. Bind me to you, I fall away. Bind me, ease of my heart, bind me to your love. Gentle things you return to me, and duties that are sweet. And you say, I am in this heart, I and my name are here. Everywhere the blades turn, in every thought the butchery, and it is raw where I wander; but you hide me in the shelter of your name, and you open the hardness to tears. The drifting is to you, and the swell of suffering breaks toward you. You draw me back to close my eyes, to bless your name in speechlessness. Blessed are you in the smallness of your whispering. Blessed are you who speaks to the unworthy.
Those who have followed the earlier 40 installments of BoM, fully or in part, would find here much which is familiar in both expression and content. In this book LC seems to have created a series of variations on a theme, or perhaps several themes, which are repeated throughout the book. Still, there is always much beauty in his way of expression, always some new turn of phrase or exciting allusion to the prayer book, the Psalms, and other sources. I’ll comment only on few of the lines.

I look far, I forget you and I’m lost – Looking far does not bring the answer, which is nearby, in the familiar (and in the religious context, in the familiar tradition).
I kneel toward my heart. I have no other home – One of LC’s biographies is titled Prophet of the Heart, and indeed, LC’s “message” always had to do with the heart, and here he seems to be equating it with the religious element.
Gentle things you return to me, and duties that are sweet – In another LC biography, Ira Nadel claimed that “For all his despair, Leonard Cohen has led a life of unfettered romance, largely free of obligations or responsibility”. I believe that LC often demonstrated admirably his commitment to his family members and his friends, to his art and to his audience (those interested may look up my review of the book posted on the Files). He was also committed for long years to the practice of Zen and of his Jewish tradition, and when he speaks here of “duties that are sweet”, we feel that he really means it.
… to bless your name in speechlessness – This is a paradox, also because he needs to use speech to refer to speechlessness. Perhaps here lies the difference between the true devoted hermit, who remains speechless, and the artist, who even when trying to act like a hermit, has to break through the wall of speechlessness in order to express himself.
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Diane
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby Diane » Wed May 06, 2009 12:17 pm

Hi Doron. It's always good to read your informative posts, thank you. I'm only passing through to say that this is my favourite verse in BoM. It's just so beautiful.

Peter Danielson very effectively set this piece to music.
DBCohen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby DBCohen » Wed May 06, 2009 4:05 pm

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your input. I didn’t know about the setting of this BoM piece to music. I hope to meet you here more often – whenever you feel like it.
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mat james
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby mat james » Wed May 06, 2009 6:30 pm

I end the day in mercy that I wasted in despair.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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peter danielsen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby peter danielsen » Wed May 06, 2009 10:08 pm

Hi Everyone,
Yes a couple of years ago I did record this piece. I remember it was close to christmas, and I felt very low, and so I recorded this lyric to the melodi of bird on a wire, I send the song to my friends and my family as a blessing.

I would like to upload it here but I guess the file size is to large. Maybe jarkko Could help, i would be glad to share it

Peter
...I ..... .... ....... made . ..... ...... by ....... music .. ..... .. ......
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Diane
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby Diane » Thu May 07, 2009 12:53 am

Hi Peter, someone passed on to me your mp3 of this verse a couple of years back. I lost it when my hard drive died a few months ago. It would be great if you could upload it somewhere. Youtube?
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blonde madonna
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby blonde madonna » Thu May 07, 2009 5:48 am

For me this verse expresses so perfectly the comfort that can be found in God (or something similar) when life brings great pain.
Everywhere the blades turn, in every thought the butchery, and it is raw where I wander; but you hide me in the shelter of your name, and you open the hardness to tears.
BM
1980 -- Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
1985 -- State Theatre, Melbourne
2008 -- Hamilton, Toronto, Cardiff
2009 -- Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley
2010 -- Melbourne
2013 -- Melbourne, The Hill Winery, Geelong, Auckland
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peter danielsen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby peter danielsen » Thu May 07, 2009 11:31 am

Our dear friend Jarkko has kindly provided us with a link to my little version of #41
Hope you like it
Peter
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/pdan2009.mp3
...I ..... .... ....... made . ..... ...... by ....... music .. ..... .. ......
Judy
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby Judy » Thu May 07, 2009 1:07 pm

Thank you ... that is beautiful.
DBCohen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby DBCohen » Thu May 07, 2009 2:54 pm

Peter,

Thank you very much for your contribution, and for adding this new, musical, aspect to our reading of BoM. It was a real treat.
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby Simon » Thu May 07, 2009 3:53 pm

Thank you Peter for this beautiful piece and to Jarkko for making it so readily available to us.
Cohen is the koan
Why else would I still be stuck here
DBCohen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby DBCohen » Thu May 07, 2009 4:15 pm

Simon!
It’s good to have you back after such a long absence! I hope you are here to stay…
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Diane
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby Diane » Thu May 07, 2009 10:38 pm

It's so lovely to hear that again, thanks very much Peter. I'm glad everyone can hear it now.

Simon, yes, long time no see.
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mat james
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby mat james » Fri May 08, 2009 12:45 am

That is very uplifting Peter. Beautiful.
Thanks.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
DBCohen
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Re: Book of Mercy #41-

Postby DBCohen » Wed May 13, 2009 3:02 pm

It was a promising beginning, but then things have died out. Are there no more comments on #41?

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