Lori's Book Nook

Leonard! Oh, Leonard…

Posted on: August 4, 2006

How can I be a Canadian, writing about words and books, and not bring Leonard Cohen to centre stage?

I was in a *gasp* bookstore tonight, and saw Cohen’s latest book of poetry, Book of Longing. Browsing through some of the poems, I see that many refer to the six years he recently spent in a Buddhist monastery in California. Lots of the kind of poetry I like — simple, but telling, observations of life’s details.

But for tonight, let’s contemplate one of his songs, one of my favourites, Bird on a Wire. If you’ve only ever heard it as a song, appreciate it now for the language:

Bird on a Wire by Leonard Cohen

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.
Like a baby, stillborn,
like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
and by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”
Oh like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

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Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!
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