It’s no secret that Leonard Cohen is one of the most prolific poets of our time. From 1956 up until his death in 2016, his writing was always one of a kind. Nobody had a way with words like Cohen. Whenever I’m deep in my thoughts, I always put on songs like So Long, Marianne, Dance Me to the End of Love, and so many more, as his lyrics are nothing short of pure art. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that he started out his career as an aspiring writer. Throughout his novels and poetry, he has written some beautiful things. Here are five quotes from his literature for when you are deep in your feels.
“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh”
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2. “Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you’re tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty ”
3. “… I didn’t fall in love of course it’s never up to you but she was walking back and forth and i was passing through”
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4. “My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.”
5. “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
For those who don’t know, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love was released in theaters on July 4th. The movie chronicles the complicated love of Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse, Marianne Ihlen. The film includes many interviews of people close to both Cohen and Ihlen, and is a beautiful story of how free love can ironically place you in the deepest confines of emotional pressure.
The movie also depicts Cohen’s struggle to emotionally commit to a woman, as he was too committed to his writing and his music. The film consists of various words of wisdom from Leonard Cohen and is a reminder that he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th and 21st century. It gives the audience an urge to look back at some of his most profound lyrics throughout his many years of song writing. People forget that he started out as an aspiring fiction writer before taking on the world of music. These are some extremely sagacious lyrics throughout his music over the years.
“I heard the snake was baffled by his sin He shed his scales to find the snake within But born again is born without a skin The poison enters into everything”
In this verse of the song, Cohen references the Bible, specifically the conversation between Eve and a snake. He references the snake with sentiments of good and bad. Normally, a snake who sheds his skin will get a new skin, naturally undoing himself of his old skin. Undoing himself of his old skin is a metaphor for removing himself of his sins. Yet, while you may be able to forget your sins, it is impossible to undo them. The poison will remain and spread throughout your body. After being born again without a skin, you are left fragile and vulnerable.
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“Maybe there’s a God above But all I’ve ever learned from love Was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew you”
Cohen was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish household, and was quite religious. Yet, he has gone through tragic personal experiences that has made him question the existence of a God.
Cohen also compares gun conflicts to relationships; that every time he has been in love he has been hurt. What he has learned from love is how to hurt someone who has hurt you, or how to impose torment on the other as they break your heart.
Song: Steer Your Way
“As he died to make men holy Let us die to make things cheap”
In this verse, the person dying “to make men holy” is an obvious reference to the story of Jesus’ martyrdom. “Let us die to make things cheap” can be seen as a sardonic turnabout of this event. It could also be a reference to how in the capitalist world; how man and woman work in the Third World in life threatening conditions to “make things cheap”.
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Song: First We Take Manhattan
“I don’t like your fashion business, mister
And I don’t like these drugs that keep you thin
I don’t like what happened to my sister
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin”
This verse takes quite a cynical look at the fashion business; its pretentiousness and superficiality. That the fashion business symbolizes a lot of what is wrong with modern society.
“I don’t like what happened to my sister” could be a reference to the objectification of women by the fashion industry; how it creates unrealistic standards of beauty for women, similar to what social media is doing today.