Rest in Peace, Prince of Song

Whoever he was who first painted Love as a boy, don’t you think it was a wonderful touch? He was the first to see that lovers live without sense, and that great good is lost in trivial cares. Also, with reason, he added the wings of the wind, and made the god hover in the human heart: true, since we’re thrown about on shifting winds, and the breeze never lingers in one place.

– Propertius

In truth, nobody was Leonard Cohen’s contemporary. He was always closer to the great classical poets: like them, he knew that the only way to kneel at Love’s altar is with one’s fingers crossed behind one’s back, that Love is a real force in the world – ineffable, harrowing and divine – that can only be pierced with the mortal arsenal of verse. Which is also to say: Leonard Cohen is timeless. Yes, he was a soldier, but he was at the same time a profoundly tender and dexterous poet. He wove words together like a cloth, exposing love in all its folds and contours: the strange objects it infuses, the savage longings it fuels and confounds, the obscure operations by which it holds us together and holds us apart. All its pledges, all its interdicts, and more than anything, its movement – its absolute propulsive drive. Master of metaphor, he saw that love’s promise could only be understood by the infinite dissemination of its disclosure, by never remaining in one place. Through the combined resources of the finitude of the song and the infinity of metamorphoses in language, he treated love’s enigmas such that the secret truth whose intensity often dissimulates its exactness might be revealed. He did not shy away from darkness, but practised the most painful incisions, in order to make the song into the machine of truth. Yes, he is the one who painted Love for us, and yes, his touch was wonderful.

RIP Leonard Cohen. Our most important spy.

“Ah, lover come and lie with me, if my lover is who you are,
and be your sweetest self awhile until I ask for more, my child.
Then let the other selves be wrong, yeah, let them manifest and come
till every taste is on the tongue,
till love is pierced and love is hung,
and every kind of freedom done, then oh,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love.”

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