It’s going to happen very soon. The great event which will end the horror. Which will end the sorrow. Next Tuesday, when the sun goes down, I will play the Moonlight Sonata backwards. This will reverse the effects of the world’s mad plunge into suffering for the last 200 million years. What a lovely night that will be. What a sigh of relief, as the senile robins become bright red again, and the retired nightingales pick up their dusty tails and assert the majesty of creation.
— Leonard Cohen, ‘The Great Event’
I’m forty-one, the moon is full,
you make love very well.
You touch me like I touch myself,
I like you, Mademoiselle.
You’re so fresh and you’re so new,
I do enjoy you, Miss.
There’s nothing I would rather do
than move around just like this.
— Leonard Cohen, ‘Do I Have To Dance All Night?’
Here comes your bride with her veil on
Approach her, you wretch, if you dare
Approach her, you ape with your tail on
— Leonard Cohen, from ‘Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On’
Now I know you’re sitting there, deep in your velvet seats, and you’re thinking, ‘He’s up there saying something that he thinks about, but I’ll never have to sing that song’. But I promise you friends, you’re going to be singing this song. It may not be tonight, it may not be tomorrow, but one day you’ll be on your knees and I want you to know the words when the time comes. Because you’re going to have to sing it to yourself, or to another, or to your brother. You’re going to have to learn to sing this song.
— Leonard Cohen, ‘Please Don’t Pass Me By’
I stopped to listen, but he did not come. I began again with a sense of loss. As this sense deepened I heard him again. I stopped stopping and I stopped starting, and I allowed myself to be crushed by ignorance. This was a strategy, and didn’t work at all. Much time, years were wasted in such a minor mode. I bargain now. I offer buttons for his love. I beg for mercy. Slowly he yields. Haltingly he moves toward his throne. Reluctantly the angels grant to one another permission to sing. In a transition so delicate it cannot be marked, the court is established on beams on golden symmetry, and once again I am a singer in the lower choirs, born fifty years ago to raise my voice this high, and no higher.
– Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy
This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn’t turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me
– Leonard Cohen
Whenever I happen to see you
I forget for a while
That I am ugly in my own eyes
For not winning you
I wanted you to choose me
Over all the men you know
Because I am destroyed
In their company
I have often prayed for you
Let me have her
— Leonard Cohen, The Energy of Slaves