Dear Heather

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished.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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Dear Heather

Postby mat james » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:29 am

Jean Fournell (and Daka) wrote a great little poem in the "Villanelle" format, which I assume, may have been inspired by Leonard Cohen's song, "Villanelle For Our Time".
They got me thinking about that under appreciated album, "Dear Heather". I have, sauntering around in my mind, potentially, a whole new twist (for me) on the meanings or purpose of some of the songs.
Of course, that doesn't mean my ideas have any validity; :roll: but I love to contemplate possibilities; as some of you know.
One interesting and important starting point to note is that Leonard did not write the Lyrics for this song; but he did write the music.
(Lyrics were written by Frank Scott.)

A "villanelle", by the way, is a poetic form; like a "sonnet" is a poetic form; And it is said to have sprung from the French countryside; the pastoral grazing lands; perhaps the Heather of our "Dear Heather".

So, thanks to Jean's (and Daka's) inspiring poesy, I open up another thread for discussion; with song number 7 on the Dear Heather Album, being a great place to start.
My initial comments are drawn from my response to Jean, linked below.
Please add your own comments about this song; or on any other song from this Dear Heather album and we will see where we end up!
This could be fun...


7. Villanelle For Our Time

Words by Frank Scott (1899-1985)
Music by Leonard Cohen

From bitter searching of the heart,
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart.
We loved the easy and the smart,
But now, with keener hand and brain,
We rise to play a greater part.
The lesser loyalties depart,
And neither race nor creed remain
From bitter searching of the heart.
Not steering by the venal chart
That tricked the mass for private gain,
We rise to play a greater part.
Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.

.
.
.


(viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35772&p=351629#p351629)
{That is a "cool" poem Jean;
I love the title, the villanelle form and the topic.
Your poem's title, "Carelessly written into flowing water" sweeps me into those eastern perspectives, effortlessly; beautifully.
I love that space, twixt void and form, twixt East and West, twixt material and mystic...

I better refresh myself and my contemplations, again, in Leonard and his Dear Heather ;-)

A thought, Jean?
Do you think the title of that album, "Dear Heather" is a reflection on the "pastoral" aspects of the 'villanelle" form?
I have wondered, in the past, who "Heather" was.
But after reading your poem and looking into that poetic form (villanelle) and its pastoral references...perhaps Heather was the pasture/pastoral "heath", the grazing lands where the sheep fed?
...perhaps we graze between "void and form", as you say,
...maybe the Nazarene was right; we are a bunch of sheep in need of a "good shepherd" who can herd us through void and form to "omni-presence".? 8)

Thanks for the thought-provoking journey.}

Mat.
Last edited by mat james on Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Dear Heather

Postby Jean Fournell » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:46 pm

Well, I see that I'll have to put the iron back into the fire, and lay the pliers and the hammer down on top of the anvil, and beat the key-board instead for a while...

Edit:
In order not to be misunderstood: this forging image is only a metaphor.
I don't nail any iron (nor gold) to my horses' feet, and I'm not their lord.
For those who have difficulties with pastoral stuff like "ox-herding pictures", or "the Run-away Horse", (or, in my case, "the Absent Mare"), this link might possibly provide some help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c19VPiN5XLQ


And since there are two or three threads being spun hand in hand, I might as well throw my two cents in here.

First, I'd already scribbled down on an empty envelope (for the "Carelessly..."-thread):

Many thanks, Mat, for your appreciation!
Nice echo from a fellow-fort-holding-bbg.
(The rest isn't scribbled yet, and will have to wait.)

Then, I certainly do owe my inspiration to Daka.

It was his villanelle that made me look up what a villanelle is, and made me have a closer look at Frank Scott's "Villanelle For Our Time". (Hopefully I'm not committing too much of an indiscretion in saying that in an exchange of personal messages between Daka and me it indeed was referred to.)
And thus, Daka's impulse had me find out that William Empson's "Missing Dates" is a villanelle, too. I've loved this poem for decades, and now I felt a bit like Monsieur Jourdain...

(Molière's Monsieur Jourdain fell in love one day, and in order to declare his flame, he went to a master of philosophy to have an appropriate word written, according to the rules of the art. The writer asked him whether he wanted it in poetry or in prose, and Monsieur Jourdain said neither. The writer told him that there was no third possibility, and Monsieur Jourdain was highly astonished at realising that he himself had been speaking prose all his life without ever knowing it.)

So my liking for the villanelle is old, though long hidden in the unknowing, and now of course I had to give it a try. My English isn't actually good enough for this kind of joke, but I have a feeling that I got more fluent of late (thanks to this forum), and I hope that I managed to avoid the worst blunders.

As for your questions, Mat:

For me, "Heather" has been (until now maybe I'll have to broaden my view) the Heather from Leonard Cohen's novel. (Which novel? Well, I lent it to someone, some time in the early 1970s, then forgot to whom, and never got it back... Can't remember. The Heather whom Breaveman hypnotised.)

And I don't agree with Jesus, son of Mary, when he considers people a bunch of sheep needing a shepherd. My own "herding" activity way back in my professional life was always directed towards enabling to walk without crutches. Without haste nor hesitation, everything in its own time (as in this zen-dialog), but onwards:
"Master, here I stand before you, and I have nothing."
"Then throw it away."
"What could I throw away, since I have nothing?"
"Then keep it."

A mighty ego-crutch as yet for a while.

It is a tricky thing to have a go at interpreting one's own stuff, because one is too close to it and knows too little and has too much dust in the eyes. Interpretation is for others.
So just two or three things I might make out in the fog surrounding "Carelessly...":
The shepherd seems to be watching his own interior cattle...
The "per aspera ad astra" view is not exactly my thing. Nor the tragedy-stuff.
There is Leonard Cohen's "I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one" ("You know who I am").

Now, going over the booklet of the "Dear Heather" album, the "pastoral" view seems to be growing more and more convincing to me. Not exhaustive, not by a long way; but "Heather" with a double (or more...) meaning to it methinks that indeed deserves some looking into....
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)
Tchocolatl
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Re: Dear Heather

Postby Tchocolatl » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:37 am

mat james wrote:(...)...maybe the Nazarene was right; we are a bunch of sheep in need of a "good shepherd" who can herd us through void and form to "omni-presence".? 8) (...)
2000 years A.D. and something later, we may have learn a thing or two and, maybe, (just maybe), are we a little less sheepishly in need for a shepherd (good or bad or both) though the company is still a necessity (and learning as well) ? I ask the question. Asking the question may be a form of answer. Though.

Bitter? I would rather say umami.
***
"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: Dear Heather

Postby mat james » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:10 pm

...just sauntering at the moment...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMJPZ-mu-Ts
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Jean Fournell
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Re: Dear Heather

Postby Jean Fournell » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:45 pm

I tell you, I tell you, I tell you:
the third "Carelessly..." poem (still in my womb) was not inspired by this gorgeous piece!

Thank you, Mat.
___________________________________________________
Therefore know that you must become one with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the target
to say nothing of the horse.

... for a while
... for a little while...

(Just a filthy beggar blessing / What happens to the heart)

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