Leonard Cohen is an unusual Poet and Songman.
Perhaps you wonder why you are so attracted to his work?
Perhaps he helps you connect with your own Spiritual Quest in some musically alchemical Way?
Something in me loves something Leonard's music and words do to me; do for me. So; I offer this anatomy of poetry below for those who are interested in fathoming the depths of his artistic alchemy.
I prospect for gems; and this is my view. an anatomy of Poetry
a way of "seeing" (Leonard's) poetry; particularly symbolic poetry.
(example by way of analogy)
The poem becomes the scene: A form, human, walking towards me from a distance.
Poems are essentially an experience of intellect and inner vision.
They can emanate the 5 senses, particularly sound which merges into rhythm and sometimes rhyme and other forms of structure.
Words and sound take us to sense of sight; in the form of in-sight and inner vision.
Taste, touch, and smell may even emanate from the page or heard word.
And it follows, the poem may also emanate the "6th sense ".
A poem may take us into:
A variety of inner visions; ways of viewing and seeing.
There are levels or ways of understanding; various people may perceive a poem differently.
Poets are consciously or unconsciously telling a story; or telling several stories at the same time!
For example: Is the tale, Little Red Riding Hood, about a poor vulnerable little girl of the woods? Or is it a story about a raunchy young chic wandering around fluttering not only her eyes at some mongrels of men?
So I enter a Cohen song on a simple level first and then I hunt around for other possible meanings.
Apparently it is common for Middle Eastern poets to operate on 5 levels; according to Idriess Shah in his book titled "The Sufis".So poem or song unfolds like a distant figure moving slowly into my view.
1. clothed form in silhouette..
. (the culture from which it springs)
2. naked form...
(collective human/natural characteristics)
examinations of particulars... (unconscious relatedness)
skeletal structures supporting form... (mythic/religious constraints)
5. formless before form :
...into the mystic.
Most poets utilize the first two levels (above) as a norm.
These levels are constrained by the five senses and every-day events and relationships.
The sixth sense(s) begin to make their mark and operate from the third way of viewing.The third level may even have initiated the poem, may be an impulse that drives the poet to write the poem in the first place and may somehow be referenced in the poem.The third level can hint, consciously or un-consciously at the remaining two levels and therefore be a blend of all five levels. In this sense, a poet could write a deeply layered poem without realizing it, if it has emanated from his or her unconscious.
Poetry moving into the third level and beyond into the fourth, is uncommon and the stuff of culture, both old and new. It includes mythic heroes and quests for meaning and battles that edge both author and reader towards the next and final level.
Poetry moving into the fifth level is exceedingly rare. It moves out of culture and into universals and what is often termed "mystic experience", beyond form; and back. The mystical experience is very rare in itself and to get someone to write about it poetically is incredibly rare. To keep it simple, the "mystic experience" that I am talking about is what the Zen masters call "Satori"; direct intuitive knowing of the authentic cause, beyond intellect and reason.
Their (Zen) definition of what Leonard might call his view from "The Window" is as good as any that I have come across; and Cohen's songs are as good as any I have come across which sing to that "moment in the rose garden" T.S.Eliot sings of also.
For me, poets like Blake, Rumi, Holderlin, Solomon, Tagore, Lao Tsu, St. John of the Cross, T.S.Eliot and so on write in this multi-layered fashion. And so too does Leonard, for me, and this is what makes Leonard Cohen's poetry exceptional and effective and contemporaneously universal.
Also, he has enhanced the beauty of his poetic vision with exquisite musical compositions and it is this combination of talents that has brought him to the fore in his chosen profession of Songman and keeps him relevant through generations.
His Art is effective and affective because it downloads to the unconscious (level three) of a certain type of person; a person already looking for meaning and spirituality and it resonates there;
entering the gap in our void.
"Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness," ...................(T.S Eliot, Burnt Norton.)
"Be still and know that I AM." ...........(King David)
That is why I push for what I call "fifth level" (mystical) understanding of Leonard Cohen's work.
And for me, that puts him in the second best company possible; those sublime writers I mentioned above and others of their ilk, from all cultures.
I won't "define" what the best company possible is. Others have tried and all have failed....
Mat Machiavelli James.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRmMcO1hiMQ
(Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs; Little Red Riding Hood)viewtopic.php?f=10&t=8076
(Book of Mercy)http://www.tristan.icom43.net/quartets/norton.html
(The Window)http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Medita ... still.html
(Psalm 46,10. David)