Book of Longing

| On
Monday, August 21, 2006
by Leonard Cohen #25

do not read this book if you are any of the following: blissfully happy, mordantly depressed, anti-canadian, exceedingly prudish, or averse to self-portraits.

do read this book if you are: in the perfect receptive state of melancholy, a lover of poetry, a leonard cohen fan, not prudish, curious about how many drawn self-portraits can be inserted in a book of poetry (answer: read it to see).

When I started reading this volume, I was not that into it. I realize now that I was just too happy for it to be a good fit in my reading list. Shortly after that aborted first try, events transpired and I found my mood heavier, but also more receptive to the dark but hopeful messages within. Of course at first it was TOO heavy and I had to put it down again because it made me want to stick my head in the oven. (Book of Longing is no joke as a title. I found myself mourning things I didn't even know existed. But I suppose that kind of discovery is the whole point of reading in the first place.) Finally, equilibrium was found between black mood and buoyant heart and I was able to read it all pretty much in one go.

I wouldn't recommend this if you are looking for something to cheer you up (although one could argue that if you're looking to Leonard Cohen for sunshiny cheer you get what you deserve). However, if you are in an emotionally nebulous state and looking for something to read, Cohen is great company. It's not all doom and gloom; he's often quite funny in a dark dry way. He can articulate the confusing chambers of the human heart like few others.

here's one that I liked (there were many, but this one popped out at me as I write this). I am particularly drawn to the last stanza (verse?).

The Sun

I've been to the sun
It's nothing special
A place of violence
Much like our own

The sun said
I am an open book
Be patient

You will find
That everything happens
The same way
Here and there

The solar winds
Are something else
No one masters them
No one really
Navigates them

You survive them
Or you are never
Heard from again

I love the way
The sun speaks
It is so calm and honest
Except when seized
By its own misfortunes
2 comments on "Book of Longing"
  1. Oh! I really like the final stanza as well. It makes the sun sound so reasonable and rational, except when beset by its own problems. Who knew the sun and I had so much in common? My solar winds are running amock (though on the up side, I can happily say that it is not with a carving knife).

  2. I'm happy that you've found a non-carving knife up side! and you thought the glass was half empty...


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