Sisters of Grammar

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Post Reply
User avatar
david birkett
Posts: 300
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:05 am
Location: HITCHIN, ENGLAND
Contact:

Sisters of Grammar

Post by david birkett » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:26 pm

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
Has anyone commented on the possible grammatical error here? I'm no expert, but 'couldn't' would seem to be correct, although it would disrupt the scansion, which could be repaired by omitting 'just'.

I worry that this worries me.


David
The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.
Bhasi
Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:25 pm
Location: London - UK

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by Bhasi » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:41 pm

You SHOULD be worried, David! No, seriously, I've always liked this departure from the norm. The lyric as a whole seems so carefully wrought that this bit seems to stop it being too precious, keeps it 'real' (innit?)
Steven
Posts: 2140
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 12:32 am

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by Steven » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:42 am

Hi David,

Maybe the switch of tense was for evocative purposes. Present tense is more
compelling. And on the usage front, the "Oh" might properly have been
followed by a comma. Admittedly, though, I'm out of my league with
any comments on grammar and usage.
John Etherington
Posts: 2581
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:17 pm

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by John Etherington » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:16 pm

Leonard might have sung "I couldn't go on", but it doesn't matter (poetic license and all that!).
User avatar
david birkett
Posts: 300
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:05 am
Location: HITCHIN, ENGLAND
Contact:

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by david birkett » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:42 pm

Thanks for the thoughts.

I suppose I'm surprised by such a meticulous lyricist making what may be a basic error of tense, but this feeling doesn't jeopardise the status of the song as one of my favourites.

I became interested in both Cohen and gardening relatively recently, in the (supposedly) mature stage of my life, and, as it was the first song I learnt entiely by heart, I used to sing Sisters to the plants as I watered. They now receive a more varied repertoire.

David
The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.
User avatar
anneporter
Posts: 3132
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: at home by the sea

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by anneporter » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:51 pm

David,
I suspect the word choice is not an error but an artistic choice. It places the singer and the listener at the hinge of past/present--even future, because "go on" is future-oriented To use "couldn't" would limit the listener to considering a story from the past.


Anne
User avatar
anneporter
Posts: 3132
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: at home by the sea

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by anneporter » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:59 pm

David,
Oh,yes, and I meant to mention--I also garden to the sound of Cohen, on my laptop, which I move around the garden as I go. I usually curb my urge to sing out loud until I'm back in the house, for the sake of the neighbours. I guess I still have some inhibitions left

A
Tony
Posts: 488
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2002 11:39 am
Location: UK

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by Tony » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:34 am

Maybe you could get a garden gnome which has a repeating tape of LC? That would safeguard your laptop. I am surprised they are not selling them at the concerts.
User avatar
anneporter
Posts: 3132
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: at home by the sea

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by anneporter » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:36 pm

Excellent idea, Tony. Maybe I'll make one...
User avatar
david birkett
Posts: 300
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:05 am
Location: HITCHIN, ENGLAND
Contact:

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by david birkett » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:42 am

Since the river of this thread has delightfully been diverted into Leonard Cohen and gardening (and why not indeed), I thought it would be a reasonably harmless thing to do to compile a list of suitable tracks.

E.g. Aster Song;
The Fuschia
Waiting for the Miracle Gro
There for yew

Peace and mulch.


David
The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.
User avatar
anneporter
Posts: 3132
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: at home by the sea

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by anneporter » Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:30 pm

Cute!
Ziyad
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:19 pm

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by Ziyad » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:32 pm

And David, don't forget the much loved 'Wisteria', I prefer Leonard's version to the X-Factor's
1974 London RAH|1976 London RAH, London New Vic x 3|1979 Manchester|1985 London Hamm x 2|1988 London RAH x 3|1993 London RAH x 2|2008 Manchester x 2, Glastonbury, London O2 x 2, Big Chill, London RAH, Brighton|2009 Weybridge|2012 London Wembley|2013 London O2 x 2

"thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes, i thought it was there for good so i never tried"
User avatar
hydriot
Posts: 881
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 3:07 am
Location: back in the UK

Re: Sisters of Grammar

Post by hydriot » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:26 pm

And of course 'Bougainvillea Street'
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
Post Reply

Return to “Leonard Cohen's music”