"I have been here before": Buddhism and Hallelujah

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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"I have been here before": Buddhism and Hallelujah

Postby Goldin » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:59 pm

There are a number of Forum members who are kind enough to share really deep and interesting thoughts on LC lyrics.
This extract from Borges' lecture about Buddhism, which reminds me of Hallelujah lyrics, may be a food for thought.

For context see google books, page 68.
Transmigration has been a great theme of literature. We also encounter it among mystics. Plotinus says that to pass from one life to another is like sleeping in different beds in different rooms. I imagine all of us have had the sensation of having lived previous lives. In the beautiful poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "Sudden Light," he says, "I have been here before." It is addressed to a woman whom he has possessed or will possess, and he tells her that she has already been his, and has been his an infinitive number of times, and will be his forever. This takes us to the doctrine of cycles, which is close to Buddhism, and which St. Augustine refuted in The City of God.

— Jorge Luis Borges
Seven Nights: Buddhism
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Sudden Light

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
Roman aka Hermitage Prisoner

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