How To Speak Poetry

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
carm
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How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:11 am

Take the word butterfly. To use this word it is not necessary to make the voice weigh less than an ounce or equip it with small dusty wings. It is not necessary to invent a sunny day or a field of daffodils. It is not necessary to be in love, or to be in love with butterflies. The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. There is the word and there is the butterfly. If you confuse these two items people have the right to laugh at you. Do not make so much of the word. Are you trying to suggest that you love butterflies more perfectly than anyone else, or really understand their nature? The word butterfly is merely data. It is not an opportunity for you to hover, soar, befriend flowers, symbolize beauty and frailty, or in any way impersonate a butterfly. Do not act out words. Never act out words. Never try to leave the floor when you talk about flying. Never close your eyes and jerk your head to one side when you talk about death. Do not fix your burning eyes on me when you speak about love. If you want to impress me when you speak about love put your hand in your pocket or under your dress and play with yourself. If ambition and the hunger for applause have driven you to speak about love you should learn how to do it without disgracing yourself or the material.

What is the expression which the age demands? The age demands no expression whatever. We have seen photographs of bereaved Asian mothers. We are not interested in the agony of your fumbled organs. There is nothing you can show on your face that can match the horror of this time. Do not even try. You will only hold yourself up to the scorn of those who have felt things deeply. We have seen newsreels of humans in the extremities of pain and dislocation. Everyone knows you are eating well and are even being paid to stand up there. You are playing to people who have experienced a catastrophe. This should make you very quiet. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Everyone knows you are in pain. You cannot tell the audience everything you know about love in every line of love you speak. Step aside and they will know what you know because you know it already. You have nothing to teach them. You are not more beautiful than they are. You are not wiser. Do not shout at them. Do not force a dry entry. That is bad sex. If you show the lines of your genitals, then deliver what you promise. And remember that people do not really want an acrobat in bed. What is our need? To be close to the natural man, to be close to the natural woman. Do not pretend that you are a beloved singer with a vast loyal audience which has followed the ups and downs of your life to this very moment. The bombs, flame-throwers, and all the shit have destroyed more than just the trees and villages. They have also destroyed the stage. Did you think that your profession would escape the general destruction? There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself. Be in your own room. Do not put yourself on.

This is an interior landscape. It is inside. It is private. Respect the privacy of the material. These pieces were written in silence. The courage of the play is to speak them. The discipline of the play is not to violate them. Let the audience feel your love of privacy even though there is no privacy. Be good whores. The poem is not a slogan. It cannot advertise you. It cannot promote your reputation for sensitivity. You are not a stud. You are not a killer lady. All this junk about the gangsters of love. You are students of discipline. Do not act out the words. The words die when you act them out, they wither, and we are left with nothing but your ambition.

Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list. Do not become emotional about the lace blouse. Do not get a hard-on when you say panties. Do not get all shivery just because of the towel. The sheets should not provoke a dreamy expression about the eyes. There is no need to weep into the handkerchief. The socks are not there to remind you of strange and distant voyages. It is just your laundry. It is just your clothes. Don't peep through them. Just wear them.

The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country. If you declaim it and blow it up with noble intentions then you are no better than the politicians whom you despise. You are just someone waving a flag and making the cheapest kind of appeal to a kind of emotional patriotism. Think of the words as science, not as art. They are a report. You are speaking before a meeting of the Explorers' Club of the National Geographic Society. These people know all the risks of mountain climbing. They honour you by taking this for granted. If you rub their faces in it that is an insult to their hospitality. Tell them about the height of the mountain, the equipment you used, be specific about the surfaces and the time it took to scale it. Do not work the audience for gasps and sighs. If you are worthy of gasps and sighs it will not be from your appreciation of the event but from theirs. It will be in the statistics and not the trembling of the voice or the cutting of the air with your hands. It will be in the data and the quiet organization of your presence.

Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.

by Leonard Cohen
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Take the word butterfly…
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Last edited by carm on Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Jokapaikanapina
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Jokapaikanapina » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:23 pm

This one was a new piece of Leonard's work for me. At first I thought that you, carm, were quite a writer and yet I somehow recognized someone else's writing style pretty soon..

I found a recording of Leonard reciting this. It just opens up a hole somewhere in the back of my head and lets thoughts flow in and out and the effect is incredibly soothing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2XkfBWSmcs

Has there been any official release of his recitings? Apart from one or two poems amongst his live albums and so.
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Diane
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Diane » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:19 pm

Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.
I have not noticed before how fine is this paragraph. I want to send it to somebody who is dead tired right now. Thanks for bringing it up, Carm and Jokapaikanapina.
Jokapaikanapina wrote: Has there been any official release of his recitings? Apart from one or two poems amongst his live albums and so.
I think Master Poems, that features this recital and about 15 other poems, can be downloaded. But if you can't get hold of it, PM me your postal address and I will send you a copy.
Cate
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Cate » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:20 pm

Diane wrote:
Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.
I have not noticed before how fine is this paragraph. I want to send it to somebody who is dead tired right now. Thanks for bringing it up, Carm and Jokapaikanapina.
I hadn't either until you separated it out like that Diane.
I really love this piece, it makes me want to take notes but what really gets me is his sense of humour.
carm
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:04 pm

Take the word butterfly…

A butterfly is mainly a day-flying insect and unlike other insects, butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Some, like the Monarch, will migrate over long distances. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts. It is a well-known belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. It is a habit for butterflies to feed primarily on nectar from flowers and also to sip water from damp patches. Butterflies sense the air for scents, wind and nectar. Many butterflies, such as the Monarch, migrate during the day, using the sun to orient themselves. Some species alight on chosen perches and some have courtship flight displays. One Japanese superstition says that if a butterfly enters your guestroom and perches behind the bamboo screen, the person whom you most love is coming to see you. The Ancient Greek word for "butterfly" is (psȳchē), which primarily means "soul", "mind". In Chinese culture two butterflies flying together are a symbol of love. In some old cultures, butterflies symbolize rebirth into a new life after being inside a cocoon for a period of time.

LCohen writes:
Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.
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carm
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:18 pm

LCohen writes:
Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself.
Spirits succinctly uniting,
by curves of chance
or of their own accord,
augmenting colourful
interpretations of a graceful
arrangement, extolling
various combinations
of cyan, magenta,
yellow and black
that contribute,
by way of amalgamation,
to endless revelations.

Take note the Butterfly,
a symbol, some say,
of the human soul –
alive and well in its
anomalous bloom of phiz,
burgeoning far beyond
an artist’s ink to mirror
its intricate design,
accrued within its flowering.
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Diane
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Diane » Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:42 am

carm wrote:spirits uniting...curves...wings...burgeoning...
in Sonnets for the Portugese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curved point,--what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Beloved,--where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
carm
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:48 pm

Diane writes:
in Sonnets for the Portugese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curved point,--what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Beloved,--where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
......

Mysteriously weaving
in and out of
passion's flame,
the butterfly,
open to love,
surrenders,
and the impliable
Gordian Knot
intertwined within
the irregular pulse
of temporal love,
cinders…
as the root
of all fear
and darkness
is far removed,
the butterfly
takes rest,
safely cocooned,
infused with dreams
and warmed by love’s
spiritual embrace –
’tis a beautiful thing...

.....

LCohen writes:
This is an interior landscape. It is inside. It is private.
Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired.
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Diane
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Diane » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:48 pm

carm wrote:
Mysteriously weaving
in and out of
passion's flame,
the butterfly,
open to love,
surrenders,
and the impliable
Gordian Knot
intertwined within
the irregular pulse
of temporal love,
cinders…
as the root
of all fear
and darkness
is far removed,
the butterfly
takes rest,
safely cocooned,
infused with dreams
and warmed by love’s
spiritual embrace –
’tis a beautiful thing...
in The Holy Longing, Goethe wrote:
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
kaye
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby kaye » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:02 am

Impressive. Beautiful. I love how you wrote it. Butterfly. The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. There is the word and there is the butterfly. The word butterfly is merely data. It is not an opportunity for you to hover, soar, befriend flowers, symbolize beauty and frailty, or in any way impersonate a butterfly. Do not act out words. Never act out words. Never try to leave the floor when you talk about flying. I love that lines :)
carm
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:11 pm

Waiting,
I age.

To cease,
is not
permitted
here.

To
complete
something,
is.

You
are
not
my
hero.

Elongated
wisps
of light
shed
the silhouette
of
you.

Arched
in wing –
spirit,
triumphant
and free.


If
ever
I awake
from your
aethereal
verse,
to recall
that moment,
not long ago,
when you
spoke
to me
of something,
of an image –
of one
midst
the glory
of the sun.

Its very
essence
demands
emulation.

Until –
everything
calmly explodes
into fragments
of light.

.....

Provoked
by poetry,
images
dance
forever,
in our mind,
in our eyes,
becoming
nothing,
but a part
of
who
we
are,
part of
our
speech.

.....

That you
were here,
is good.

I thank you…

Your
winged prayers
usurp
the palest canvas,
with the bliss
of being –
so colourful,
so alive.

You are
a hero
unto
yourself.

Your
priveledged
autonomy
and giddy
weightlessness
crisscrosses
the solitude
of
the soul,
where
a poetic
burgeoning
finds
rebirth,
in an
expansive,
more virile
form.

LCohen writes:
It is not necessary to be in love, or to be in love with butterflies.
Diane writes;
in The Holy Longing, Goethe wrote:

…a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

…and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
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Diane
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Diane » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:19 am

Carm, I couldn't think of another poem;-) I enjoy your excellent poetry, and my exchanges with you. Thank you.
carm
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:34 pm

Diane writes:
I couldn't think of another poem…
Leonard Cohen writes:
Days of Kindness

Greece is a good place
to look at the moon, isn’t it
You can read by moonlight
You can read on the terrace
You can see a face
as you saw it when you were young
There was good light then
oil lamps and candles
and those little flames
that floated on a cork in olive oil
What I loved in my old life
I haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
The days of kindness
It rises in my spine
and it manifests as tears
I pray that loving memory
exists for them too
the precious ones I overthrew
for an education in the world
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxyEN9ddQyw

Leonard Cohen writes:
Do not act out words. Never act out words. Never try to leave the floor when you talk about flying. Never close your eyes and jerk your head to one side when you talk about death. Do not fix your burning eyes on me when you speak about love.
My Time

My time is running out
and still
I have not sung
the true
the great song

I admit
that I seem
to have lost my courage

a glance in the mirror
a glimpse into my heart
makes me want
to shut up forever

so why do you lean me here
Lord of my life
lean me at this table
in the middle of the night
wondering
how to be beautiful.

– Leonard Cohen

Diane, the great enjoyment for me, was indeed, the involved reciprocity of your thoughts.
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Diane
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Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby Diane » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:55 pm

carm wrote, Leonard Cohen wrote:
so why do you lean me here
Lord of my life
lean me at this table
in the middle of the night
wondering
how to be beautiful.
Leonard Cohen wrote:
This is the way we summon one another, but it is not the way we call upon the Name. We stand in rags, we beg for tears to dissolve the immovable landmarks of hatred. How beautiful our heritage, to have this way of speaking to eternity, how bountiful this solitude, surrounded, filled and mastered by the Name, from which all things arise in splendour, depending one upon the other.
carm wrote:
Your
winged prayers
usurp
the palest canvas,
with the bliss
of being –
so colourful,
so alive.
lc1.jpg
carm
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:47 pm

Re: How To Speak Poetry

Postby carm » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:19 am

Leonard Cohen writes…
How beautiful our heritage, to have this way of speaking to eternity, how bountiful this solitude, surrounded, filled and mastered by the Name, from which all things arise in splendour, depending one upon the other.
It widens into flight
and then it is gone,
like a song's poetics,
intimate and radiant.

We live in all we seek.

Leonard Cohen writes:
Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.
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