Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
User avatar
linda_lakeside
Posts: 3857
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:08 pm
Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..

Postby linda_lakeside » Thu May 12, 2005 8:33 pm

Oh, how I love a happy ending.

Linda.
Tchocolatl
Posts: 3781
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 10:07 pm

Postby Tchocolatl » Fri May 13, 2005 2:31 pm

What do you mean "ending"? I hope this thread will continue, I was "talking" only for my participation, of course. :)

Steven, you do light my day, just by writing that, perharps... :lol:
cmforlife
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:29 pm

Re: Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Postby cmforlife » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:34 pm

I am analysing this poem for an assignment, and I can't figure out a few of what I am sure are references to something in Jewish history. Does anyone know what is meant by the statement about the bones of the child that are hidden in the Talmud?
The exact wording is:

For you
I will be an apostate jew
and tell the Spanish priest
of the blood vow
and where the bones
of the child are hid


Thanks :)
User avatar
mat james
Posts: 1747
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 8:06 am
Location: Australia

Re: Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Postby mat james » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:25 am

These are the “keys” to this little kingdom of poetry.

• Spanish priest
• Apostate
• Blood vow
• Bones of a child

Spanish Priest.
The Mercedarian Order was founded by a (French) Spanish priest by the name of Saint Peter Nolasco:
“The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, founded in 1218, is an international community of priests and brothers, who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity based on the Rule of Saint Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order. From this life flows the apostolic work of the Order that seeks to carry on the work of our founder, Saint Peter Nolasco, who in imitation of Jesus the Redeemer, offered even his life for those Christians in need of redemptive love.” (http://orderofmercy.org/)
Nolasco left France to move to Spain to escape the influences of a particular group, the "Albigenses" who, interestingly enough had a rather Samurai/Japanese/Zen understanding of liberation: They believed that the quickest way to heaven was through suicide.
(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm)
Perhaps the Christian “martyrs” influenced this teaching?
Blood Vow
Members of this order (Mercidarian) vowed to free Christian hostages ("Blood Vow") from their captors by offering to swap themselves for the hostage and so the hostage gained their freedom by the sacrifice of another (and thereby martyr themselves, I suppose and fulfill their "Blood Vow").
I suspect their desire for a meaningful suicide (hostage to martyr) and a quick slip off to heaven was influenced by the Albigenses.
This is a long shot, “comforlife”, but it seems to fit and maybe it will get the ball rolling.

So, a possible meaning of this verse:

Bones of a child.

Leonard may be cynically referring to an “abortion” in this verse, as the "blood vow" where one individual is sacrificed in order to secure the “freedom” of another; the mother (and/or father).
Perhaps he was referring to a particular event among his friends or just abortions in general?

These lyrics come from his song, “The Future” and may be related to this verse you are interested in. But as I said, it is a longshot.

“You'll see a woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown

and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin'
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby:
it is murder

Things are going to slide ... “

When they said REPENT REPENT ...

Apostate
An "apostate" is one who rejects the traditions of his upbringing.
So if Leonard accepted the practise of abortion, then he would need to reject the teachings of his upbringing and would need to become an 'apostate jew '.

Mat James.
Last edited by mat james on Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
User avatar
linda_lakeside
Posts: 3857
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:08 pm
Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..

Re: Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Postby linda_lakeside » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:30 am

Yowza. That's a keeper..
~ The smell of perfume in the air, bits of beauty everywhere ~ Leonard Cohen.
cmforlife
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:29 pm

Re: Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Postby cmforlife » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:13 am

Thanks for your reply mat james.
I read the spanish priest in a completely different way. I thought perhaps the Spanish priest had something to do with the spanish inquisition and their work converting Jewish people to Christianity. I could find no way this related to the bones of a child.. Though I thought maybe it was something to with the vow they had to take so they didn't convert back, and how they were burned if they didn't comply. I really appreciate the answer however.. Yours makes more sense than mine I think.

Does anyone know what he means about the Broadway jew and crying for his mother. I assume the selling bargain goods is something about the black market, but I can't find a way to tie this in with Broadway (if it is about the black market that is).

For you
I will be a Broadway jew
and cry in theatres
for my mother

and sell bargain goods
beneath the counter
User avatar
mat james
Posts: 1747
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 8:06 am
Location: Australia

Re: Cohen's "The genius"--- poem analysis

Postby mat james » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:18 am

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_q ... mammy&aq=0

Hi comforlife.
I assume Leonard is speaking of Al Jolson and his song "Mammy".
The idea in this poem is that Leonard will be anything he needs to be to impress this lady. (ergo: "I'm your man" song).

Back later, Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.

Return to “Leonard Cohen's poetry and novels”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest