Poems and photos by Leonard Cohen

The Embrace

(Stranger Music, 1993)

When you stumble suddenly
into his full embrace,
he hides away so not to see
his creature face to face.
Your yourself are hidden too
with all your sins of state;
there is no king to pardon you;
his mercy is more intimate

He does not stand before you,
he does not dwell within;
this passion has no point of view,
it is the heart of everything.
There is no hill to see this from.
You share one body now
with the serpent you forbid,
and with the dove that you allow.

The imitations of his love
he suffers patiently,
until you can be born with him
some hopeless night in Galilee;
until you lose your pride in him,
until your faith objective fails,
until you stretch your arms so wide
you do not need these Roman nails.

Idolators on every side,
they make an object of the Lord.
They hang him on a cross so high
that you must ever move toward.
They bid you cast the world aside
and hurl your prayers at him.
Then the idol-makers dance all night
upon your suffering.

But when you rise from his embrace
I trust you will be strong and free
and tell no tales about his face,
and praise Creation joyously.

Hydra, 1983

My Mother Asleep


remembering my mother
at a theater in Athens
thirty-five years ago
a revue by Theodorakis
those great songs
she fell asleep
in the chair beside me
in the open air theatre
she had arrived that day
from Montreal
and the play started
close to midnight
and she slept through
the mandolins
and the great songs
I was young
I hadn’t had my children
I didn’t know how far away
your love could be
I didn’t know
how tired you could get

Days of Kindness

(Stranger Music, 1993)

Greece is a good place
to look at the moon, isn’t it
You can read by moonlight
You can read on the terrace
You can see a face
as you saw it when you were young
There was good light then
oil lamps and candles
and those little flames
that floated on a cork in olive oil
What I loved in my old life
I haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
The days of kindness
It rises in my spine
and it manifests as tears
I pray that loving memory
exists for them too
the precious ones I overthrew
for an education in the world

Hydra, 1985

You Have Loved Enough

(Ten New Songs 2001)

I came to You with sorrow –
You said, “Come to me with bread”.
I could not make a living –
You employed me with the dead.

I chose the marble chambers –
But You sent me down below.
You kept me from believing
Until You let me know:

That I am not the one who loves –
It's Love that seizes me!
When hatred with his package comes,
You forbid delivery.

And when the hunger for Your touch
rises from the hunger,
You whisper, “Child ,you've loved enough,
now let Me be the Lover”

Hydra, 2000

...One more from the family album: little Adam

Poems and photos © Leonard Cohen. Reprinted
with permission. All rights reserved.