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Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:03 am
by mat james
To all lovers of Leonard and "You want it darker";
I have been reading these guys (Cohen and Cruz) for over 30 years but this new-ish English translation is simply beautiful and will, I am sure, take you to his "window" on all things flaming Dark and Light.

This book will cost you about US$14.
The Author (Juan)is Spanish, with Jewish ancestry (Grandparents)
He was friends with St. Teresa of Avila, who was Spanish with Jewish ancestry.
The translator is a professor of Spanish who is Jewish
Cohen loved Spanish Poets and was Jewish.
There are two common links here and one of them is Spain.
In my opinion, this little book is a must read for those who are enchanted by the words of Leonard Cohen. It never mentions Leonard, but he will be there with you right through the reading.
It is cheap, it is exquisitely translated by a scholar and it is one “key” to the kingdom of Leonard.

Mirabai Starr, a new translation of Dark Night of the Soul, by San Juan de la Cruz. ... vAodov4KdQ


Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:44 am
by mat james
Adam, get a copy of that book I mentioned in my last post. The answer to your question will be crystal clear.


Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:04 am
by Diane
Boss wrote:
Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:21 am
we know that your 'sentence' has been one of the heaviest that any of us has had to endure. I felt a bit irritated when you started adding 'irrelevant
C'mon Di, I had it easy. It was all of you that had the difficult 'sentences'. Burdened in mortgage, successful educative exploration, marriage and indeed children, financial 'success' via well paying employment, employment even. I am well aware of who frequents these pages. My 'type' are labourers on building sites, are sitting in the outer at the footy, are in insane asylums lamenting 3 dead young adult siblings. I had nowhere else to go. I, Diane, am a misfit, a fish out of water. I'm an average bloke who can understand 'You Want It Darker'. G-d made me like that - He had to. A commoner who can spell, who through unfair pain, can now see how wounded the whole world is. You think I can't see how lonely you are, Di? I know your pain, woman. Right now, while typing, I'm listening to 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' by Dylan. Why would I be doing that? A pure Hasidic well educated devotee of Jehovah won't do. He needed a rascal, a loose canon like me to dance in hell for 50 years. I was always gonna suffer - else I couldn't write this. That's who I am Di, an average bloke who had difficulties and who can spell.

Diane, when you meet Jackie - I now call her Chavah - on the road, tell her 'only one of us was real and that was me.'

Boss, you are an intelligent and at times highly creative person, and you ramble on too much in the 'wrong' places, and, 'humanity' is your 'type'. Go beyond wondering about LC's work a moment and question what he did to evolve from the despairing artist to the light, beaming man you saw on stage. He wasn't acting! It wasn't a quick nor an easy path and he didn't do it alone (and he didn't let go of his religion). Anything else is just another excuse not to begin. This is likely unwanted 'advice', but there isn't a thing else I can say.

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:19 pm
by mat james
Getting back on topic, back to the discussion of the Darker Album, I would like to post this poem of Cruz.
It is obvious that phrases and words in the poem are relevant to the songs of Leonard Cohen.
The title, "Living Flame of Love" is directly referenced in the title of The Darker Album, in the words, "Kill the Flame".
That is, the flame is said to be "living" and Cohen says....if you want it darker, "kill" the flame.
To kill the flame would be to kill ones love of G~d.
To many, that loss of love Divine would be one loss too many. But if you...yes you!...want it darker, then kill this love in your soul for your G~d.
According to Cruz, and Leonard, that is about as dark as it can get....the next step is annihilation.
I know that Cruz at least was in love with God. I suspect Cohen was too, though this final album of his does put forward a few obvious doubts already mentioned by others on this thread.
Read this poem and maybe you will get the feeling that I do; and that is that Leonard Cohen was deeply influenced by the poetry of this man, Juan.
You will notice a few other lines that influenced other songs of Leonard's, as well.

The Living Flame Of Love

The Living Flame Of Love
Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.
(inspired by the Songs of Solomon...)

1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.
3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.
4. How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

by San Juan de la Cruz.

The verbal topography is neither accidental nor co-incidental; and it is the same with the book I mentioned 2 posts of mine ago.
I don't give a rat's arse about any particular tradition, religion or philosophy, and so I am not pushing any particular bandwagon. I merely read and observe and reflect and occasionally.... connect. It's fun. It is what I do.

I'm Traveling Light!

Mat James.

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:29 pm
by I'm your fan
You should read the original text in Spanish: (The original complete title is "Llama de amor viva -
Canciones del alma en la íntima comunicación de unión de amor de Dios". [The Living Flame Of Love - Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.])

Canciones del alma en la íntima comunicación de unión de amor de Dios.

¡Oh llama de amor viva,
que tiernamente hieres
de mi alma en el más profundo centro!;
pues ya no eres esquiva,
acaba ya, si quieres;
rompe la tela de este dulce encuentro!

¡Oh cauterio suave!
¡Oh regalada llaga!
¡Oh mano blanda! ¡Oh toque delicado,
que a vida eterna sabe
y toda deuda paga!
Matando, muerte en vida la has trocado.

¡Oh lámparas de fuego,
en cuyos resplandores
las profundas cavernas del sentido,
que estaba oscuro y ciego,
con extraños primores
calor y luz dan junto a su Querido!

¡Cuán manso y amoroso
recuerdas en mi seno,
donde secretamente solo moras!;
y en tu aspirar sabroso,
de bien y gloria lleno,
¡cuán delicadamente me enamoras!

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:32 pm
by I'm your fan
Now a text comentary in English on San Juan de la Cruz poem:
The poem Llama de amor viva was written by San Juan de la Cruz in the 16th century. This poem belongs to the second half of the Renaissance, a period characterized by a rise of the religious theme and a closing of barriers to cultural exchange. San Juan professed as a Carmelite and studied at the University of Salamanca with illustrious teachers such as Fray Luis de León. St. Teresa of Jesus added to his reforming enterprise and, with the rule adopted by her, he also founded several convents.
In San Juan de la Cruz we find that the totality of his work is ascetic-mystical and, as far as his great poems and prose, declared mystical. His major poems are entitled Dark Night of the Soul, Spiritual Chant and Flame of Living Love. These are followed by comments in prose to explain the meaning of their verses, as it reveals mystical experiences difficult to understand. These three major poems are recognized by critics - believers or non-believers - as the highest summit achieved by our lyric, given the intensity of divine love and desire for union with the Beloved. Since he achieves this much-desired union and finds himself in a situation of difficult expression, he resorts to the use of symbols. St. John is considered the creator of symbolic language.
In the poem Llama de amor viva we find the theme of the reflection of the loving feeling that the soul presents when it has that mystical union with God.
It is a short text that is composed of four songs or verse verses, which are 6 verses (combination of 7 and 11 syllables). In the first stanza the author prays to God to break the barrier that separates the divine from the earthly and thus to join him. In the second, St. John alludes to the three components of the Holy Trinity and explains that the divine life is better than the earthly. Then we can find the desired union with God. And finally, in the last stanza, the poet tries to explain the feeling that God produces and the yearning for the moment in which his love can be consummated. Linear structure, coinciding with the stanzas.
St. John of the Cross intends to make us aware of the sentiment of love, of faith; A feeling that can produce pain, but sometimes also satisfaction. This is found in the oxymoron of the second verse, "tenderly wounded," which reinforces the feeling of faith, present through the symbol of the "flame" (verse 1). In the third verse we find a hyperbaton in "of my soul in the deepest center", where the author expresses the innermost part of himself, that part in which that deep and sincere love for divinity dwells. All these resources are united by a rhetorical exclamation expressing the desire to unite with God and to break the barrier that separates them. This separation of divine life and earthly life is marked by the symbol of the "cloth" (v.6). It is also necessary to emphasize the word "elusive" (v. 4), since it refers to the amorous feeling proper to courtly love. It is symptomatic to highlight the influences that St. John collects in his poems, in this case resort to some troubadour influence in which love is shown as vassalage. We see, therefore, a poetic self desirous of uniting with God and praying for the desired union to occur.
The predominant use of anaphora present in the exclamations of the seventh to eleventh verse serves to re-influence the theme of the desire for union with God. We can observe in the ninth verse a Petrarchist lexicon in "bestowed sore", with which the poetic self feels captive of its own loving feeling. This influence from Italy, during the first half of the Renaissance and thanks to the figure of Garcilaso de la Vega, is related to the predominant theme of love, which sometimes appears as a painful feeling. Love can also be found in the use of religious symbols, which refer to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit (v. 9), while building synestesies to reinforce what will produce union. But it comes to a point where there is an exaggeration and a paradox that uses to refer to the divine life is better than the earthly. It indicates that this earthly life amounts to great suffering, from which it can only be liberated by the union of the soul with God. This reinforces it with the derivation "killing, death in life", as it intensifies the fact.
The idea of ​​faith, present in the symbol "lamps of fire" (v. 13), helps guide the soul to meet its beloved, thus passing from a dark state - symbolized by the "deep caverns" V. 15) and "dark" (v. 16) - to a state of "light and color" (v. 18), where one goes from a state of blindness - "blind" (v. Which is illuminated by union with God. All this stanza is reflected in an exclamation that expresses the enthusiasm for the achievement of that union.

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:59 pm
by I'm your fan
Amancio Prada is a Spanish singer who set music to many poems from Spanish poets. Here is a version of Llama de Amor Viva sung by him:

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:22 am
by mat james
I'm Your Fan,
thanks for the informative and relevant posts.
You didn't comment directly to the idea that Cruz influenced Cohen, but I will take your input as a "maybe".
...and, I would love to be able to read Cruz, and other Spanish Poets in their native tongue, but I can't.
So that makes your input and understanding of the subject of Spanish influences (Cruz, in particular) on Leonard Cohen and his work all the more valuable to our conversation on this thread, and other threads too, I might add.

I like to view Cohen's work through the context of Cruz' mystical work, as my interest in Cohen is primarily on this level. Sure it is his music that first captivates me but it is his words that hold the allure. I might add that my views on things don't always go down too well; but that's O.K. as this is an open discussion forum and all positions put forward hold some crumbs of truth or accuracy; even mine 8) :?

So thanks again IYF, and I look forward to reading your thoughts in the future.

Diane, as always, I love your take on things.

...and Adam, I don't know what to say about your occasional delusional negativity. That little boy of yours is a beauty, but your adult Adam tramples on that little boy in me to the point of muddy pollution.
And Adam, "...adults are not wise" and that includes you and me.

I'm still walking towards the sunshine on my bruised but unbroken little legs; and loving the saunter.


Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:06 pm
by ursula48
Thank you Mat James and I'm your fan,
I've been listening to Amancio Prada singing poems by San Juan de la Cruz. Absolutely fantastic!
I'm grateful for your information, Mat James, and your link, I'm your fan.
I didn't know those poems. I started learning Spanish when I fell in love wth Leonard's poems and songs. I knew he was influenced by García Lorca. And I wanted to read his poems in the original language.

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:42 pm
by I'm your fan
Mat James, ursula48:
Thank you for your aknowledgement.
I encourage you to read more works of San Juan de la Cruz. In particular one of his most famous works, the Spiritual Canticle ("Cántico Espiritual").
I copy and paste a paragraph from the English Wikipedia about the Spiritual Canticle:
"St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite friar and priest during the Counter-Reformation was arrested and jailed by the Calced Carmelites in 1577 at the Carmelite Monastery of Toledo because of his close association with Saint Teresa of Avila in the Discalced Carmelite reforms. He remained imprisoned for nine months in a cell, in bad conditions that caused him much suffering. He memorized, in the absence of the means to write them down, a thirty-one-stanza version of the Canticle. Some years later, after 1582, he wrote down the last stanzas in Baeza and Granada, the last five ones after a conversation with a nun, sister Francisca de la Madre de Dios."
Here is a link with the text of the poem, in Spanish and in English: ... hest-love/
Here is the poem, sung by Amancio Prada. It is divided in four parts; the first one lasts 3:14; the second, 4:51; the third, 5:51; and the fourth and last, 3:02. In full, less than seventeen minutes. I strongly recommend listening all the tracks; this is a whole work and couldn't be undestood by listening only one of them. It's a conceptual work, as some would say today.
Read first the text, in Spanish and in English, in the link above forementioned. Then you can listen the poem while reading along the text.
Enjoy it! ... 4743CCF019

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:39 pm
by Diane
mat james wrote:
Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:22 am
I would love to be able to read Cruz, and other Spanish Poets in their native tongue, but I can't.
Me too!

I'm Your Fan, Ursula, Mat --I will enjoy reflecting upon the Cruz you've copied/added notes and music links to here. Gracias. I don't think anyone has found a direct reference to the line, if it be your will before! Nicely tracked down, Mr James.

I made a quick start on the first lines:

1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center!

That reminds me of when I used to lash out at people who were being kind to me, and cause chaos. My acting out of 'the deepest centre of tender wounds' (or out of any other 'self'-ish motivation) plays out to the largest scale, of course. Everybody knows, but to no avail if we don't realise it.

It's my last 'day off' today, so I'll see everyone down the line. Take care, all.

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:21 pm
by mat james
Well spotted Diane.
Yes, this poem is the source of that song title, as I hinted before.
I think Doron will be pleased to have solved this little mystery at last as he has pondered deeply about its origins in his informative article/talk on "If it be your will".

Again, I suggest to all those who are interested in understanding Cohen on this mystical level; read all the works of Cruz, and not just the titles of his books and poems. Lucky the Spanish speaking peoples.
Peers' translations into English are great, but Mirabai Starr's translations, particularly her "Dark Night of the Soul", speak to the modern mind more sweetly.

As Cruz's little lady friend, Teresa, put it;
"god dissolved my mind
my separation"

and, if it be your will, may that dissolving process lift us clear, as well. :shock: :D 8)


Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:46 pm
by vickiwoodyard
I am still rather new posting to this forum, but with Leonard's passing, it feels good to read what others are saying and how they are feeling. I confess to being the one that goes for my instinctive feelings as to what listening to a particular song might mean to me. Leonard is consolation, always, whatever he may be referring to. Consolation is what I GET.

I often ponder the mystery of who he is and was and how he could so deeply affect so many strangers on such an intimate level. I am a student of the way in general, so I am always open to his wisdom. His integrity is impeccable, always, and I strive for that in my writing as well. But Leonard cannot be outshone by anyone. His modesty is immense. I could go on and on. Stop me before I run out of pixels.

I don't know all of your names, Joe, Diane, Boss, Matt, to name a few only. Thank you for enlightening me about this and that.


Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:40 am
by Steven
Hi Vicki,

Your "instinctive feelings as to what listening to a particular song might
mean" to you, are probably almost always right. :)

Perhaps the consolation that you and I and some others get is largely
grounded in connection that the songs make to each of us. The songs go
to where they can matter most. That can be an intimate thing, consoling
in reach and presence.

(Some of the motivation to analyze the lyrics is to get deeper and additional
meanings out of them. It's also to "to delve into the mystery of who he is
and was and how he could so deeply affect so many strangers on such an
intimate level." There's also a desire to learn more about subject matter he
drew upon; the songs piqued interest to learn about lots of things.)

Re: The Darker Album and the Songs

Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:10 pm
by vickiwoodyard
Steven, yes to all you said. The mystery of his love is so deep and wide that the light shines on so easily now.

Tears spring to my eyes in gratitude. It seems the burden he bore for so many years was rolled away. Yet at the end he still had to suffer in his physical body before giving up the ghost, as they say.

One does not come to a teacher like Leonard without having suffered a great deal; he knew that. Hence his kindness.

Hence our connection to him and each other goes on.