Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
newbury
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

Postby newbury » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:53 pm

Hi, how's everybody?
Well, I love this poem and I know that it's sorta related to A. M. Klein (dedicated to him) and Mr. Cohen talks of "Loony bin" and other things related to Mr. Klein. but I have trouble understanding (and picturing) some parts of this poem. if you could help me out here, that'd be great... if you could give an interlinear interpretation, that'd be wonderful.
but anyway, here are some troubling lines for me:

"When you glinted in every eye the held-high razor shivering every ram and son..."
What is he describing here? cannot picture it


"Until the turning mind, a radar signal, lures them to exaggerate mountain-size on the white stone wall, your tiny limp"
What does he mean by "your tiny Limp"? and what about "Exaggerate mountain-size on the white stone wall"?

"No more evil to stun with the slap of a wet red tongue"
How 'bout this one? what is the meaning of this, what is he implying? and what's the meaning behind the "wet read tongue"?


thanks a lot
Cate
Posts: 3457
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:27 am

Re: Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

Postby Cate » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:28 am

a couple of thoughts,
"When you glinted in every eye the held-high razor shivering every ram and son..."
What is he describing here? cannot picture it
A.M. Kleins first name is Abraham, In a bible story Abraham was sent to sacrifice one of his sons on a mountain,
with all parent/child, student/teacher relationships there is a point of separation or rather a point of change in that relationship ... I don't know but it feels like maybe he's alluding a bit to that here.
Plus, Klein liked bible stuff and he liked Mount Royal, so it's a good all round shout out.
What does he mean by "your tiny Limp"? and what about "Exaggerate mountain-size on the white stone wall"?
I don't know, could it be the wall of the institution? I wonder if you could see Mount Royal from it.

Mcgill, at the bottom of mount royal has some beautiful limestone walls, and the look out has something like a wall ... I feel that Mr. Cohen is not just being symbolic here but is also referencing something physical and personal (intimate). the limp and exaggerate ... I have no idea what that means but Montreal poets are born to exaggerate - their mountain is a very small mountain, if it's a mountain at all.


http://canpoetry.library.utoronto.ca/klein/poem5.htm
newbury
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Re: Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

Postby newbury » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:56 pm

Thanx a lot for answering, that was great

could you also help me out with "No more evil to stun with the slap of a wet red tongue"? I mean what is he trying to say here with this sentence?

thanks again
Cate
Posts: 3457
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:27 am

Re: Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

Postby Cate » Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:50 am

l klein had died when this was published but I don't know if Leonard wrote this poem then or before, perhaps Klein is silent because he has died or perhaps because he chose to stop talking (he withdrew)

'slap of a red tongue' - sounds like talking, talking with bite
'no more evil to stun with the slap of a red tongue' such a great line! For me it makes me think of somebody giving a ranting speech, the evil that being stunned could be the holistic, or atheism or whatever he was passionate about

not sure if that's helpful or fits with what you're working on but I wish you luck,
when you finish, I hope you think about posting your interpretation here, it's always nice to get a look into how somebody else sees something.
newbury
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Re: Help me to interpret "To A Teacher" by the great LC

Postby newbury » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:30 am

Thanks you so much, it really helped
I'm still thinking over this one
Leonard is such a great poet/songwriter, it's just amazing and magical.
thanks again

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