Leonard Cohen – “Millenium”

September 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm (Leonard Cohen, Poetry & Literature)

From Flowers for Hitler

This could be my little
book about love
if I wrote it–
but my good demon said:
‘Lay off documents!’
Everybody was watching me
burn my books–
I swung my liberty torch
happy as a gestapo brute;
the only thing I wanted to save
was a scar
a burn or two–
but my good demon said:
‘Lay off documents!
The fire’s not important!’
The pile was safely blazing
I went home to take a bath
I phoned my grandmother
She is suffering from arthritis
‘Keep well,’ I said, ‘don’t mind the pain’
‘You neither,’ she said
Hours later I wondered
did she mean
don’t mind my pain
or don’t mind her pain?
Whereupon my good demon said:
‘Is that all you can do?’
Well was it?
Was it all I could do?
There was the old lady
eating alone, thinking about
Prince Albert, Flanders Field,
Kishenev, her fingers too sore
for TV knobs;
but how could I get there ?
The books were gone
my address lists–
My good demon said again:
‘Lay off documents!
You know how to get there!’
And suddenly I did!
I remembered it from memory!
I found her
pouring over the royal family tree,
I almost said,
‘you’ve got it upside down–‘
‘Take a look,’ she said,
‘it only goes to George V.’
‘That’s far enough
you sweet old blood!’
‘You’re right!’ she sang
and burned the
London Illustrated Souvenir
I did not understand
the day it was
till I looked outside
and saw a fire in every
window on the street
and crowds of humans
crazy to talk
and cats and dogs and birds
smiling at each other!

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