Poem to Cohen

leonard-cohen-3So long Leonard Cohen . . . a farewell from Michael O’Leary

Beginning life as a middle-class son

Comfortable in your Jewish Catholicism

Tailor-made for the family’s business

You chose the more difficult artist’s path

 

Through the Montreal poetry scene

You played youth’s favourite games

Slim volumes proffering Flowers for the Fürher:

Eichmann’s normal human perversions

 

More polite than the gutter snipe

Rock and rollers, who said they joined

A band to get laid: young Cohen said

He played music to meet women

 

In the late 1960s when every belief

Came to an end: when The Beatles’ apple

Turned to pulp without the future fiction

You came along with a song from a room

 

A muse, in the real sense of ‘to amuse’

Someone who spoke openly about thought

And feeling, perhaps here was a poet

Who wasn’t alive a hundred years ago

 

Who wasn’t ‘beat’ or rock ‘n roll, exactly

But came so far, with a Spanish guitar,

With a seductive voice and lyric to match –

Existential, if you’ll pardon the expression

 

So all our Suzanne’s took us all down

To our own lands of rags and feathers;

Remembering well that Chelsea Hotel,

New York and the tragic taste of success

 

You went into God’s Hamburger Bar in

The city of Angels, wanting nothing but

‘One with Everything’ . . . becoming a Buddhist

Monk to escape the world of pain and love

 

Old songs and new could not be suppressed

So you returned to the world to bring them,

To sing them to audiences old and new

Hallelujah, Hallelujah: from below and above

 

Dancing to the end of love, you twirled

Full circle, singing so long Marianne, by e-mail

As she lay dying, remembering Greek Isles

Sunshine and smiles, farewell dreaming

 

It’s now as dark as you want it, Leonard

But remember, there’s always that crack

Perhaps you really have come to understand

Now, that’s where the light truly gets in . . .

 

(For KIN’s prose tribute to the master, scroll down to November 12.)

I have long appreciated Cohen , since his publication of ‘Beautiful Losers’ or perchance prior to that.
I will remember him as an intense source of highly introspective music, lyrics and poetry.
Some months ago – his tribute at the death of his muse ‘Marianne’ – was fairly predictive of his own desire to leave.