Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished.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: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:51 pm

"So he binds himself to the galloping mare
...and he leans on her neck and he whispers low
Whither thou goest I will go
... I want to travel with you
And I want to travel blind
I think maybe I'll trust you

...for you've touched my perfect body with your mind."

...and I sink beneath your wisdom
like a stone...
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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B4real
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by B4real » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:43 am

Mat, here are some alternate lines Leonard has sung over the years for this song.
I thought you might be interested in them :)

And the sun goes down
by the river’s side...

And the crickets are playing
their final song...

Then at home on his branch...

And she leans on her neck
And she whispers low
and they're gone with the whip...

And it’s time for their burden...

That great silhouette
on the old western sky...

some say love’s like the smoke...

Some say there are instances of exchanging adjectives, interchanging gender and introducing a singular personal possessive case pronoun in the third person ;-)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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mat james
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:42 am

Hi B4,
thanks for entering the fray, :)
Some say there are instances of exchanging adjectives, interchanging gender and introducing a singular personal possessive case pronoun in the third person ;-)
Ha! Well I suppose that, that is what Unity, communion and Oneness is all about!

(Playing with words
playing with concepts
playing with interpretation;
it's a game I love; or, why bother to read the song at all?
I'll shadow-box around a bit and see if I can avoid being down for the count.)


"Did he dream, was it she who went galloping past
And bent down the fern broke open the grass
And printed the mud with the iron and the gold
That he nailed to her feet
when he was the lord"

So far we have found Solomon longing in the gardens and the "grass",
We have saddled-up with Buddha while sitting it out, meditating
and now resurrect Jesus "with the iron and the gold".
Is it the "Way" that he nailed to her feet?
Is it the "Way" that is "printed in the mud"?
Is it the destination of that track (Way) which is the "gold"?
...the high plateau
...and why Jesus?
...aren't Solomon and Buddha enough for this sauntering Phoenician?
"Can he shoot from the hip"?

Why does Leonard so often bring up this other "beautiful loser"?
What is it that Jesus the Phoenician does for Leonard the Phoenician that the other two (Solomon and Buddha) can't...?
(Dear Reader, Place your answer here.........................................................................)

segue:
"...ground control to major Tom.....
...ground control to major Tom...............................

...And I think my spaceship knows which way to go..."
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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mat james
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:55 am

.
.
.
"...planet Earth is blue
and there's nothing I can do..."
.
.
.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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B4real
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by B4real » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:21 am

mat james wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:55 am
.
.
.
"...planet Earth is blue
and there's nothing I can do..."
.
.
.
Mat, There's lot of blue going around the forum world lately - you could say, "I've never seen the sky so blue" :)
B4real wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:28 am
Blue Alert, Blue Alert!!
B4real wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:48 am
.... I think you are going through your blue period as did Picasso ;-)
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... 80#p375656
Geoffrey wrote: you want it bluer....
his lips and his fingers were blue...
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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mat james
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:25 pm

Ha!
Hi B4

Somehow Leonard's Absent Mare song analysis took me to Bowies "Space Oddity" :roll: :?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRMZ_5WYmCg

Buddhism ultimately leads to what might be termed "empty space"
The Hebrew Bible via Job also leads to a similar "empty space"
...so somehow I ended up in Bowie's "empty space" in this song linked above.

...so Leonard (and early Dylan) found favour in their fellow-Phoenician sailor, Jesus;
"the iron and the gold
that he nailed to her feet
when he was the lord "

I "wonder what it was" that Leonard saw in Jesus that he couldn't find in Buddhist or Phoenician (Hebrew) viewpoints? ...right up to "The Flame" and his translation/poem, "The Lucky Night".

Maybe it was a certain sort of hope? Hope for eternal transience...Oneness
"before Abraham was, I AM"
and all that stuff.

Who knows!?
yet I saunter.

But the smile he wore when he spoke to Jennifer Warnes in the article above suggests he certainly reached that "high plateau" he sings of in this song, The Ballad of the absent mare".
This song is a song of hope and trust; of transience in Time/space, like his Japanese brother in spirit, Basho, glancing occasionally at a flower or the Moon, and finding a sacred moment in eternity.

"And she steps on the moon when she paws at the sky"

Cohen reminds me a lot of Basho though they were 300 years apart.
(https://www.google.com/search?q=basho&r ... e&ie=UTF-8)

I love the opening line of this song, "Say a prayer for the Cowboy"; we are told that he thought of himself as a bit of a cowboy...
And I ask myself, "Should I say a prayer for this Cowboy, Leonard?"
But I don't indulge in prayers, very often;
but I will say "thank-you, Leonard !
What a great Song."

"...But my darling says "Leonard, just let it go by...
...And they're gone like the smoke and they're gone like this song..."

Here is what that old Buddhist Poet and Monk, Basho, said about the Leonard Cohen's of the world, 300 years ago:
"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought."
And in this song we have Leonard following that advice and ending in a very Buddhist manner,
"...gone like the smoke..."
Dissipation into the "blue light" is how the journey to enlightenment ends for the Tibetan masters. Gone like the smoke into the ever-present Blue (some energy-consciousness-electro-magnetic life-force over e=mc squared sort-of dance into no-thing-ness)
...yes, dissolution and re-absorbsion into that lowest common denominator of of is-ness. The end of ego.
And an end to both mare and rider and especially their god.

For what it's worth, I suggest that "...the iron and the gold that he nailed to her feet..." are the symbols of hope that Leonard finds in the teachings of his fellow-Phoenician sailor, Jesus. A "hope" for consciousness-eternal that seems to be absent for him in his alternative religious and philosophical "positions" (Various Positions).


In summary:

...So, of course, the "high plateau" and the "gold", which is divine Union (cowboy/mare/I-Am-ness), are, for me at least, the summa theologica of Leonard Cohen. His "only love".
The "smoke" that's "gone", which dissipates into no-thing-ness-blues, doesn't cut the mustard for this longing troubadour of love, Leonard Cohen.
He wants to keep traveling light, not dissipate into otherness.

Yes, if we are in that "Lucky Night!" as he terms it in his last book, The Flame, then we may just step on that Moon when we paw at the sky...and come back with a grin, as he did with Jennifer Warnes that day...



Inverse

or
maybe something in eternity grins as it enters space-time,
maybe the Grinner is us
us-eternal
entering the Game-mortal

alive at last!

loving, dying, grinning
among wounded dawns
sauntering
through gold and blue...





Mat James
Last edited by mat james on Mon Nov 16, 2020 3:21 pm, 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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mat james
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Mon Nov 16, 2020 2:45 pm

Two prayers from a Cowboy

... I remember that I could not bear the pyrotechnics of human existence: how life ignited for an instant, burst in the air in a myriad of color flares, then all at once vanished. Who ignited it? Who gave it such fascination and beauty, then suddenly, pitilessly, snuffed it out? “No,” I shouted, “I will not accept this, will not subscribe; I shall find some way to keep life from expiring.”

(a youthful cowboy, Nikos Kazantzakis)

"General, the battle draws to a close and I make my report. This is where and how I fought. I fell wounded, lost heart, but did not desert. Though my teeth clattered from fear, I bound my forehead tightly with a red handkerchief to hide the blood, and ran to the assault.”

(an old cowboy, Nikos Kazantzakis)
https://reasonandmeaning.com/2017/02/10 ... zantzakis/

...and I ordered Report to Greco


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1emgUdD3_pE

Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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mat james
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Re: Say a prayer for the Cowboy....Ballad of the absent Mare

Post by mat james » Fri Nov 20, 2020 4:07 am

"...Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean."

( extract from Cavafy's poem, Ithaka)


So here's to the few who forgive what you; the cowgirl, the bull and the Dove...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVggBkYKGsQ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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