Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Book of Longing
Leonard Cohen is at the top of my list - of poets, of musicians, of people I want to meet. I want to write just one sentence as good as the thousands of his I love.
This book - the Book of Longing - is filled to the brim with beautiful lines, fragments and sentences. But even more than that, it's filled to the brim with Leonard - with his handwriting, with his drawings, with his notes to himself. It feels extraordinarily personal - as if we're reading his diary that was never meant to be published, as if these words, these images, were meant to be burned and never seen.
It's a little nostalgic, more than a little painful - it's filled with the pangs of growing old, dealing with the loss of friends, of family, of parts of yourself. But it's also full of passion and a sweet understanding of how beautiful love can be, even at 72 or 73.
Maybe that's what I love most about poetry - the intimacy of it, the way that every line reveals something so deep and dark and passionate that you want to turn away and can't. You're forced to watch while the poet strips himself bare, showing you, warts and all, just what he wants you to see, forcing you, for just a moment, to feel exactly what he feels.
Here's a verse, a stanza if you will, from a song/poem (with Leonard it's almost impossible to distinguish between the two) from his album, Ten New Songs, which is reproduced in the Book of Longing -
Confined to sex we pressed against
The limits of the sea
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me
I made it to the forward deck
I blessed our remnant fleet
And then consented to be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep
Now imagine a deep, dark voice singing those words. It's perfect. It's passionate. It's impossible. I love it.