Saturday 21 June 2008

Gentle and Leonard Cohen

Yesterday, Gentle went to see Cohen. She said she would see and listen to him for me also. Even if I am not so sure that I'd like to be in a concert hall, hear his voice dissipating into the crowd. But she went there, and she went for me also, and I followed her like a stranger in her shadow. I knew that when her mouth opened in adoration for the first time, it was his words which blossomed on her lips. I knew she would remember it that very moment, and I wanted to be there, to witness her lips taking the shape of his voice.

After coming back, she wrote:

i am happy, fainted and delirious.
it was the best ever, everything i have ever desired.
i am so happy i can barely speak, i can barely move or listen to whatever happens near me.

For her then, four songs which have been with me today, the whole day long. And also as a kind of answer to this very interesting debate over at Dave's blog: what is the difference between a song and a poem, where and if one can and should draw a line between the two. But maybe this is a very easy answer, because Cohen is also the Poet, after all.

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor

When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.


  1. I remember the first time i heard this song. I was only 12 years old. i still listen to it once every fortnight or so. some love affairs do last a lifetime.
    The real Suzanne (the inspiration behind this song; other than the Montreal harbor itself ofcourse) was a close friend's wife - Suzanne Villiancourt. A striking pair apparently...and ofcourse this was the only he could celebrate her....
    By the way, the way you see the world (as evidenced by your photography), one wouldn't mind travelling blind with you as well ;-). (now now, you are a big girl, so don't go about getting too many airs; like dylan about joan baez's diamonds and rust - another favorite of mine)

  2. I must have been 24 or 25 when I first heard this song (in fact listened to Cohen), and yes, some love affairs are forever.
    By the way, I see you were really serious about my having persuaded you to clap :-) However, unless you are the Poet himself, in which case I wouldn't dare (but I somehow doubt that Cohen comes to look at my pictures), I strongly advice you against any type of blind travelling. It is hard to keep the course as it is, the Titanic wasn't sailing blindly and look where she ended :-P

  3. yeah and many who were sailing blindly ended up discovering new lands...
    keeping the straight course... reminds me of eric liddle's speech in Chariot's of fire (the one about running a straight race).
    I normally have no time for God's madmen; but in Liddle's case I make an exception...

  4. yes, discovering new lands where there is always some Circe waiting to turn them into pigs or some Medusa to turn them into stone... oh but you won't listen anyway, no matter what wise advice I give :-)

    I don't know Chariots of fire, should I watch it?

  5. Why should you? its only one of the best films of all time...

    Aha...but invoking the myths is exactly the wrong path to take for your side of the debate. you are bound to run into Ulysees...the champion of all lost wanderers. What heroism, what pathos, what magic, what immortality...
    And i am not even mentioning the viking sagas...

    But what of you, capturer of images? do you not have to close your eyes to imagine those shots? Did not Sanjaya have to close his eyes to see the entire battlefield when he narrated the great war to a blind king?

  6. the wrong path to take? I don't think so, remember, if we stick to the analogy it is me who holds the magic wand :-P and it is true that Ulysses managed to escape it, but who can compare to him?

    yes, I have to close my eyes when taking pictures. Should each of my posts start then with: Roxana showed? :-)

  7. excelenta fotografie... imi place mult atat compozitia, cat si linistea pe care o transmite. Felicitari!