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.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.
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.