My Darling One (There for You)

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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Violet
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My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Violet » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:04 pm

on Leonard Cohen's "There for You"

I do realize there's already a thread for this song, but I somehow felt the need for a fresh start with this... later note: given the subsequent conversation below, this piece of writing is feeling more and more like the beginning point, as there's a great deal to this song as a layered experience..


My Darling One

In the truest sense of being an artist -- that is, outside of commercialism, or even fan-dom -- there is the idea of what it is to serve; to avail oneself so to be of service to those seeking such guidance or inspiration; and to avail oneself of the world around one, even if at times it's to be "frozen with fear." "There for You" is the song of an artist who's moving toward the end of his life, a life he's now seeing "in full review." As his lyrics suggest, it seems Leonard wasn't always consciously aware of his mission, but in retrospect, he now sees who it was in fact he'd been serving all along: namely us, his devoted listeners, followers, even, who comprise the "you" he has been "there for." And while (when thinking about and enjoying this song) this sense of its meaning has been incredibly moving to me, I find myself even more taken when he arrives at the line "my darling one," as if he's stepped out of the more generalized "you" to where I suddenly feel that I, myself, am being spoken to, and sweetly embraced with these words and his rich voice. There is so much about Leonard's work that gives me/us these private moments, and when I feel unsteady within myself or in my life, how comforting it is to seek these moments out, to be wrapped in them, understood within them, and loved.

Looking at the lyrics again, I'm realizing that at one point the line "I freeze with fear" comes immediately after "And death is old, but it's always new." Confronting one's mortality is a shock at times. And as one ages, it is beyond youth's denial and rationalizations. And so it seems important to listen to this artist now, as he faces what's to come, and to see the choices -- the words he's choosing now, so to understand them in such terms. He has said somewhere that now that his depression seems to have dissipated, now that he is "happy," in other words, his work is losing its relevance (to paraphrase). I'm not convinced this is true, although how his work is relevant may have shifted somewhat, perhaps to something far more subtle and nuanced, and simple, even, as if a certain worldliness has fallen away. I don't know if I'm saying this correctly, as in many respects his work still has that expansive field of vision that it's always had. Still, there may be another element here as well, some manner of what it is to simply live, which he's now sharing in his (inimitable) way.

Love to all, and to Leonard,

Violet


much later edit: I'm still making my 'rounds down memory thread-dom.. here I've switched to a smaller font size..
Last edited by Violet on Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:45 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Violet
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mat james
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby mat james » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:41 pm

Hello V :D

You interpret the "you" in this song/poem as the audience/listener.
And all that you suggest makes perfect sense.
And beauty emanates from your words.
However,
I see it differently.
I read the "you" as his g~d. (He has a loving and personal relationship with his god, as mystics often do)
"I was there for you
My darling one
And by your law
It all was done"
However, the poetry of the mystics (a term few are comfortable with) always involves various levels of interpretation and so there is the liklihood that we both are correct. 8)

MatbbgJ

"There For You"


When it all went down
And the pain came through
I get it now
I was there for you
Don't ask me how
I know it's true
I get it now
I was there for you
I make my plans
Like I always do
But when I look back
I was there for you
I walk the streets
Like I used to do
And I freeze with fear
But I'm there for you
I see my life
In full review
It was never me
It was always you
You sent me here
You sent me there
Breaking things
I can't repair
Making objects
Out of thoughts
Making more
By thinking not
Eating food
And drinking wine
A body that
I thought was mine
Dressed as Arab
Dressed as Jew
O mask of iron
I was there for you
Moods of glory
Moods so foul
The world comes through
A bloody towel
And death is old
But it's always new
I freeze with fear
And I'm there for you
I see it clear
I always knew
It was never me
I was there for you
I was there for you
My darling one
And by your law
It all was done
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Violet
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Violet » Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:08 pm

Hi Mat,

Thank you for checking in over here. I think I agree with your conclusion, actually, and although I didn't address the God aspect, I felt it implicit in what I was saying, and yet I see now that that would have been something to be explicit about instead, just in order to consciously gather that into the world of the song as I was speaking of it... Thanks for supplying the lyrics... Do you know what "mask of iron" refers to?... also this God aspect could explain more the lines "you sent me here, you sent me there"... and yet, in being there for us, as this servant I was speaking of, he is perhaps doing this selfless work of God's... so it's circular, it seems, or inter-dimensional, in the way that poetry can be...

Thanks so much for the conversation, I'm enjoying it,

Violet
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby mat james » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:35 am

“A body that
I thought was mine
Dressed as Arab
Dressed as Jew
O mask of iron
I was there for you”



“O mask of iron”

I can offer a few suggestions but they are wild guesses.

• Some Mystics ( Plotinus and Cruz ) who tend toward the concept of god and soul coming together in the spiritual marriage of “undifferentiated unity” (oneness) recognize or argue that the two (soul and god) are “identical” in their original form. As Atman and Brahman are to the Hindu. (That thou art).
The “man in the iron mask” (The Count of Montecristo ) also had an “identical” twin, but the real “King” was the one in the iron mask.
So I would suggest that Leonard may be acknowledging the “True and rightful King” in this game of life ….differentiated unity (Maya)
…soul and god….atman and Brahma…the many and the One
I am probably way off target; but it fits for now.

• There is also the relationship with this line and our “mask of iron”:
“A body that I thought was mine”
In the context of the 6 lines quoted above, “you” could be interpreted as Leonard’s soul, that essence that has been hanging around creation via re-incarnation. ( "you sent me here, you sent me there").
He could also be suggesting that the human plight is a common one.

• Deuteronomy 4:20 But Yahweh has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as at this day. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Egypt and the jewish slavery experience could be interpreted as the mask that brought the Israelites to their present perspective on god. ??

However, I prefer the first suggestion for the sheer beauty of the puzzle-fit.
The God (my mystic twin) in the iron mask.
The other advantage of iron is that it breaks down/rusts, and, in the end, there is no mask...just unity of mutual vision.

Well V, that's it for me and that alluring "mask". :lol: 8)

MatbbgJ
Last edited by mat james on Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Violet
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Violet » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:04 am

Hi again Mat,

Interesting how this song shifts and changes as one tries to contain it... now I'm seeing the meaning of that line "O mask of iron" as truly crucial to the understanding of the "you" since it is immediately followed by that line "I was there for you." I suppose it really could be more directly about his relationship to "God," in that sense, if that's what this mask is in some manner referring to... "My darling one" becomes a bit more difficult to absorb though as one speaking to one's God, although you've mentioned this kind of intimate relationship to God of the mystic... I guess I need to sit with this for now... but I'm feeling the depth of this direct relationship to "God" in the song as I re-listen...

Well, please don't hesitate to add something else if it occurs to you, and thanks for your thoughts on this mask... it's a powerful image, actually, strange, even a bit frightening when imagining it. The idea of the iron mask as something godlike is still foreign to me. It seems as if it were telling me I am blind, or just not seeing things properly... which might be to say, something is being hidden from me; God's world is unreal; knowledge initiates... I don't know, as I'm listening and re-listening to this song tonight, something is coming over me, it seems... there's that escalation at the end; the celestial voices and ephemeral quality taking us up, and the lyrics are both on the ground with their worldliness, at the same time they're as timeless and symbolic as "a bloody towel"... On the escalation, the words "Moods of glory, Moods so foul," it's unexpected he'd be speaking of "moods" here, as you wouldn't think it would be quite so close to his person -- since we're taking off just here... So it's the conflation of the utterly personal with something well beyond that... such complexity even dissonance of lyric and feeling, it can almost be overwhelming if you let yourself be taken by it...

Violet
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Cate » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:33 pm

Hi Violet and Mat. I hope you don’t mind if I join you.
This is an interesting song to discuss V, it definitely provides a layered experience that you could read in many ways.

First layer – you could be a lover
Second layer – you could be us
Third layer – you could be love itself
Forth layer – you could be ‘god’

I’m sure there many more layers such as off spring or the universal order (nature?).

*********
To me this is about surrendering the belief that you are in control of your life and accepting gods your role in god's plan for you.
I make my plans
Like I always do
But when I look back
I was there for you
I think that Leonard is showing us that what he once thought of as free will was actually god’s will.
I was there for you I don't think he means there for you, like to comfort you, like if you’re sad I’ll be there for you – he means there for you, like a pawn (I couldn’t think of a better word), or piece of the puzzle. 'I' was never his own, he was 'you's (god's).

*********
The Iron mask - I wondered about that too V.

Like you Mat, I thought of the man in the iron mask; so one of the things I thought was, like a prisoner. I like you went with that Mat, the idea of the rightful king.
Dressed as Arab
Dressed as Jew
O mask of iron
I was there for you
A mask goes with dressing up doesn't it - playing a role. Mask of iron - for battle maybe, or maybe for an unwavering view. Here I wonder if I is all of us and at this point doesn't it seem that you is the mask of iron, but he says O mask of iron as if addressing god - so maybe the insinuation is that god is wearing a mask of iron.
********
Violet wrote:at the same time they're as timeless and symbolic as "a bloody towel
I don't understand - 'The world comes through a bloody towel'

Does it mean that you can only see the world through suffering? Or could it mean you have to through in the towel, (I guess back to submission) in order to see things as they are? Something completely different....


Oh, I just edited my above post because it occurred to me that the mask belonged to you - I had originally been thinking that it belonged to I.
edited again to replace the word submission
Last edited by Cate on Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby mat james » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:14 pm

Cate wrote, (welcome aboard Cate)
I think that Leonard is showing us that what he once thought of as free will was actually god’s will.
Yes. This seems to sum up the essence of the song, Cate.
This might be weird, but it also makes me think iron in your blood which for some reason also makes me think of being connected to god,
an interesting path to wander down ? (the holy grail)
V. says
The idea of the iron mask as something godlike is still foreign to me. It seems as if it were telling me I am blind, or just not seeing things properly... which might be to say, something is being hidden from me; God's world is unreal; knowledge initiates...
One needs to understand where the man is "coming from". I have suggested on other forum threads (rightly or wrongly?) that I see the influence of the neo-platonist, Plotinus, in Leonard's words/attitudes.
"There is thus a converse in virtue of which the essential man outgrows being, becomes identical with the transcendent of being. The self thus lifted, we are in the likeness of the supreme: If from that heightened self we pass still higher—image to archetype—we have won the term of all our journeying. Fallen back again, we awaken the virtue within until we know ourselves all order once more; once more we are lightened of the burden and move by virtue towards intellectual-principle and through the wisdom in that to the supreme.
This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary. "
(Plotinus, http://oaks.nvg.org/ennl.html#9 )

Although Leonard is now happy to be "back on Boogy Street" and therefore in the world of Maya in his every-day life, he neverthless writes about a different perspective; that of his "secret life" (In my secret life). My suggestion is that some reading of Plotinus may assist you with you feelings that "something is being hidden from me", V.
Anyway, I love Plotinus' view of the "mystic" and I find him helpful.
The great thing about Leonard is that he really gets us thinking about what is important to us in life.
Plotinus tells us that if one does noy seek and find the mystical experience in life, then one has "utterly failed".
I think Leonard may have a similar attitude/expectation for himself.
Songs like the one we are discussing now suggest to me that he has not failed. :!:
And that, (deep down) is probably why we love him.

By the way!! What about this for your epitaph thread, V. ""Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All."
Plotinus’ last words. :D 8)

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Violet » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:15 pm

Hi Mat, Hi Cate (thanks for joining in),

Mat I like that as an epitaph, one of the few "straight" ones (which would help balance out the rest, perhaps!) If you'd like to do a post, you could write a little intro for it too... Cate, don't worry about your S&M fixation, I'm sure Leonard wouldn't mind...

Cate, as regards one of your comments, my speaking of the timelessness and symbolism of "the bloody towel" has to do with contrasting that with the more worldly or commonplace imagery... "the bloody towel" in particular seems Christ-like to me. It is obviously not just any bloody towel, but something that ascends to a transcendent notion of human suffering on this earth. Sometimes such commonplace references in a poem or lyric do remain in their worldly form... "I walk the street," for example, "like I always do"... this means what it's saying here. Even his "freezing with fear" seems to be down on this earth; this opposed to the symbolic largess of many of the other lyrics -- certainly "mask of iron," which takes us right out of the world of every day... Then again, depending on how you view the song as a whole, it's as if there's this "conflating" going on, where even the commonplace, every day imagery is infused with this otherworldliness... and so it's difficult to say any one thing here definitively, which is one of the reasons this song in particular is so compelling to discuss...

Mat, looking at Plotinus sounds like something I should consider doing at some point... Mat, if it interests you to do so, you might consider expanding your ideas on "In My Secret Life," especially in relation to what you were saying about it here... it might further this discussion a bit, and it's another intriguing song...

... bye for now, Cate + Mat,

Violet
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Re: My Darling One (There for You)

Postby Hanalah » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:18 am

Everyone who has posted here is right. I just one to add one detail.

The Holy Dove is the feminine Holy Spirit of Kabbalah.

That's why Cohen can say "my Darling One".

That's why Cohen can have an ongoing romance with Gd--with the feminine aspect of Gd.

It's very important to realize this.

It means that all his poems about women and sex are also about his love for Gd. He said so. He said that he gets Gd mixed up with women. That's because the "Holy Dove" (the Holy Spirit) is feminine.

Remember in Hallelujah?

I remember how I moved in you
and the Holy Dove, She was moving too
and every breath we drew was Hallelujah!

If you know a little kabbalah, you can apply it to other songs too.

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