The Body of Loneliness Was Embraced: Two Poems by Leonard Cohen

On the First Anniversary of his Death, Read from Cohen's Book of Longing

November 7, 2017  By Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen self portrait, courtesy of Ecco

Too Old

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I am too old
to learn the names
of the new killers
This one here
looks tired and attractive
devoted, professorial
He looks a lot like me
when I was teaching
a radical form of Buddhism
to the hopelessly insane
In the name of the old
high magic
he commands
families to be burned alive
and children mutilated
He probably knows
a song or two that I wrote
All of them
all the bloody hand bathers
and the chewers of entrails
and the scalp peelers
they all danced
to the music of the Beatles
they worshipped Bob Dylan
Dear friends
there are very few of us left
trembling all the time hidden among the blood –
stunned fanatics
as we witness to each other
the old atrocity
the old obsolete atrocity
that has driven out
the heart’s warm appetite
and humbled evolution
and made a puke of prayer




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She entered my foot with her foot
and she entered my waist with her snow.
She entered my heart saying,
“Yes, that’s right.”
And so the Body of Loneliness
was covered from without,
and from within
the Body of Loneliness was embraced.
Now every time I try to draw a breath
she whispers to my breathlessness,
“Yes, my love, that’s right, that’s right.”


From Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen. Copyright © 2017 Leonard Cohen. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen was a singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, and painter. He died last year at 82.

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