As The Mist Leaves No Scar

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
wilcotree
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As The Mist Leaves No Scar

Postby wilcotree » Sun Jan 26, 2003 5:58 pm

1. I'm gentle

2. ?

3. No matter how lonely we get it won't last forever
wilcotree
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Postby wilcotree » Sat Feb 01, 2003 9:38 pm

Will somebody answer this already? Now I'm really going outside for a long time. Turn computer off.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sat Feb 01, 2003 11:33 pm

OK, Wilcotree, I'll answer it. I found it very confusing and intrigueing. It was reminiscent of the "beat" kind of poetry[?] from the 60s; it seemed to be a kind of questioning of yourself, as well as an affirmation of yourself and state of mind and heart. Knowing that you're a "good," [gentle] person, questioning what you're going through, and reassuring yourself that you'll be okay and that this, too, is only temporary. I didn't know how to respond to it. It can get pretty lonely sometimes as we go through life, but we still see the ebb and flow that allows for better times if we maintain our faith and wait those hard times out.

The mist in your title seems to be symbolic for the haze of depression and the nothingness and haze that can descend while just existing in loneliness.
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linmag
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Postby linmag » Sun Feb 02, 2003 4:05 am

I was hoping someone else would answer you, Wilcotree, because this is one of my favourite poems even though I don't really understand it. It seems to be about two people who meet, are together briefly, and then part. When the wind and hawk encounter, the wind clearly has an effect on the hawk, enabling it to fly, but not actually changing the hawk in any way. The poem seems to be saying that whatever happened between these two people was real and liberating, but ultimately did not change either of them.

Hopefully someone else will now come along and tell us both what it is really about :)
Linda

1972: Leeds, 2008: Manchester, Lyon, London O2, 2009: Wet Weybridge, 2012: Hop Farm/Wembley Arena
wilcotree
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Postby wilcotree » Sun Feb 02, 2003 3:56 pm

It's my favorite written thing by him too so far too. It was cool too, from that "Stranger Music" book I got to read the words of some of the songs from the CD first before I heard them. That is a neat way to experience it for the first time.
wilcotree
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Postby wilcotree » Sun Feb 02, 2003 3:59 pm

And thank you for understanding me linmag. I very much liked your perspective on that second verse.
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linmag
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Postby linmag » Sun Feb 02, 2003 6:29 pm

It occurred to me after I had finished posting last night that you might have got more of a response if the poem had been available here for people to look at, so I have typed it out below.

'As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill,
So my body leaves no scar
On you, nor ever will.

When wind and hawk encounter,
What remains to keep?
So you and I encounter,
Then turn, then fall to sleep.

As many nights endure
Without a moon or star,
So will we endure
When one is gone and far.'

Then I thought it might be interesting to have the song from DOALM as well, as the two versions might shed light on each other.

'As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you and never will

Through windows in the dark
The children come, the children go
Like arrows with no target
Like shackles made of snow

True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun

As a falling leaf may rest
A moment in the air
So your head upon my breast
So my hand upon your hair

And many nights endure
Without a moon, without a star
So will we endure
When one is gone and far

True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun'

I have never actually read any of Leonard's songs before hearing them. I'm always too eager to hear them when a new CD comes out. The closest I came was when I finally got round to listening to DOALM and found that I already knew some of the songs as poems. Although there were differences between the poems and the songs, I definitely felt that knowing one enriched my experience of the other (in both directions).

I have been thinking about this particular poem a bit more, and I think that part of what both it and the song are saying is something about the nature of love. While love is real when you feel it, and can be experienced and shared, you cannot hold onto it because there is nothing tangible there.

I'm going to stop now before I get really tangled up in words.
Linda

1972: Leeds, 2008: Manchester, Lyon, London O2, 2009: Wet Weybridge, 2012: Hop Farm/Wembley Arena
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Feb 02, 2003 6:50 pm

Thank you for all of your additional information, Linda. I had no idea it was Leonard's. I've heard Death of a Ladies Man only once [at a friend's house ~ his copy] and that was 21 years ago. I have obtained a copy of Stranger Music, but have not had time to read it. This comes into much clearer focus now. Thanks.
wilcotree
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Postby wilcotree » Sun Feb 02, 2003 7:33 pm

Thank you too linmag. I was afraid to do that because of lawyers and copyright or whatever. I figured you get it from the title by searching the site.
wilcotree
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Postby wilcotree » Sun Feb 02, 2003 7:34 pm

I get tangled up in words too but ain't it fun!
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linmag
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Postby linmag » Sun Feb 02, 2003 11:28 pm

I don't think Leonard would object to us reproducing his work here on this site dedicated to him - and it makes it considerably easier to talk about it 8)
Linda

1972: Leeds, 2008: Manchester, Lyon, London O2, 2009: Wet Weybridge, 2012: Hop Farm/Wembley Arena
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Postby Murray Hill » Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:12 am

I don't think the first verse of the poem is saying he is gentle as much as it's announcing a sort of detachment on his part. In his earlier poetry, and especially in 'The Spice Box of Earth' as well 'The Favourite Game,' Leonard assumes the persona of stranger/wanderer. Like Breavman in the novel, he never lets himself get to close to anyone in order to maintian his art. So in beautiful way, 'As the Mist Leaves No Scar' is a sort of breaking up poem.....he telling her that although he loves her and is happy with her, one of them will eventually find themselves left by the other.....and it won't be him.
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Anne-Marie
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Postby Anne-Marie » Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:10 pm

My personal take on it:
As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill,
So my body leaves no scar
On you, nor ever will.
Leonard is comparing himself to the mist, and the lady to the hill. Dark green means alive and vibrant. Leonard is the mist, mysterious and temporary. The mist surrounds the hill and then vanishes without a tracing. Neither Leonard or the mist leave any markings/scars as proof they really existed in it the lifetime of the person/hill.
When wind and hawk encounter,
What remains to keep?
So you and I encounter,
Then turn, then fall to sleep.
The wind carries the hawk in a sense, and they become one flowing motion. Picture a hawk with its wings spread effortlessly gliding. But what is left of that motion once the wind dies? Like the wind and the hawk, Leonard and the woman "encounter" eachother, and their bodies become one flowing motion - however long they remain "one" for it is broken when they both turn to sleep and fall back into their own worlds leaving eachother.
As many nights endure
Without a moon or star,
So will we endure
When one is gone and far.
Moon and stars offer light, and sometimes the raging sky or location will make it impossible for them to shine through, he implies this also to his woman.
Tchocolatl
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Re: As The Mist Leaves No Scar

Postby Tchocolatl » Sat Feb 05, 2005 5:55 am

wilcotree wrote:1. I'm gentle

2. ?

3. No matter how lonely we get it won't last forever
Hello wilcotree. I would say.

1. tenderness throughout the poem.

2. ? - There is always a part of mystery that I cherish too much to track it down, stuff it and put it on the bookshelf as a hunting trophy, or little museum of the art fauna - no - then I keep the "?".

3. No matter how close we can get, it does not last forever.

children like shackles made of snow... very beautiful. Very beautiful poem.

Very beautiful.
***
"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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tom.d.stiller
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Location: ... between the lines ...

Postby tom.d.stiller » Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:15 am

I always thought that "True Love Leaves No Traces" should be considered by the light of a Zen moon.

There is a beautiful haiku by Basho (1644-94):
Yoku mireba
Nazuna hana saku
Kakine kana.

When I look carefully
I see the nazuna blooming
by the hedge!
If we contrast this (true love) position towards nature with these lines by Alfred Lord Tennyson,
Flower in a crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower —but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
we might get closer to the meaning of Cohen's poem / song. The whole difference between possessive (and destructive) love on one and "True Love" on the other hand becomes visible.

A more detailed comparison by D. T. Suzuki (Lectures on Zen) can be found here: East and West: Basho vs. Tennyson

Cheers
tom

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