Ellen Sander – “Leonard Cohen…The Man” (1967)

November 5, 2009 at 3:11 am (Leonard Cohen, Music, Poetry & Literature, Reviews & Articles)

August 1967 Sing Out! article about LC in his early days as a singer-songwriter…

 

Leonard Cohen, Canadian born author, poet, songwriter, singer, the subject of a film. Leonard Cohen, incredibly handsome, immensely articulate tough-tender young man of our times. Or possibly he is a man of his times, and we are just arriving.

Judy Collins spoke of him at Newport, and put two of his songs in her recent Elektra album. His novel, Beautiful Losers, is making waves as a Bantam paperback. His Columbia album is scheduled for release as this magazine goes into the mails.

His songs, the consummation of his music and his poetry, speak of love and lovers, of aching, tender intimate love, of obscure love, born of that something else we all feel in bittersweet moments, and of reasonable facsimiles thereof. He is also curiously and uniquely preoccupied with orthodox religion.

Although it almost seems irrelevant, there was a beginning for Cohen. He was born in Montreal. He attended school there, and was graduated from McGill University in 1955. His work, which includes in addition to Beautiful Losers another novel, The Favorite Game, and three volumes of verse, has been much anthologized and has appeared in periodicals in Canada and the U.S. He has twice won the Canada Council Award.

Cohen maintains a home on the Greek isle of Hydra, but frequently returns to the States to renew his “neurotic afflictions” and brings more songs and poetry with him. Lately he has been prowling New York, Los Angeles and Montreal folk and rock houses for a taste of the new sounds. In April he gave a reading of his poetry and Beautiful Losers at Buffalo State University, and sang some of his songs. This reading was in conjunction with their Festival of Arts program.

No comparison can be drawn between Leonard Cohen and any other phenomenon. Many will undoubtedly attempt such a comparison, but the result will be, at best, fragmentary. For Cohen is a rarity, if not a scarcity. And though he will always be rare in the true sense of the word, he will be listened to, sung, and read by an ever increasing entourage, those of the new awareness, those seeking artists of sensitivity.

Ellen Sander

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Delmore Schwartz – “In the Naked Bed, In Plato’s Cave”

November 5, 2009 at 2:37 am (Poetry & Literature)

In the naked bed, in Plato’s cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram
Slid slowly forth.
Hearing the milkman’s clop,
his striving up the stair, the bottle’s chink,
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window. The stony street
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,
The street-lamp’s vigil and the horse’s patience.
The winter sky’s pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.

Strangeness grew in the motionless air. The loose
Film grayed. Shaking wagons, hooves’ waterfalls,
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.
A car coughed, starting. Morning softly
Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,
Bubbled and whistled, so! Perplexed, still wet
With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold. So, so,
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail
Of early morning, the mystery of the beginning
Again and again,
while history is unforgiven.

Delmore Schwartz

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