A Directory To Online Poetry Recitations By Leonard Cohen

Many viewers have expressed a special appreciation for Leonard Cohen’s poetry recitations. If you fall into that group, this is a resource that will delight you. Marie, at Leonard Cohen Concordance, has compiled an annotated list of links to online recordings (including both videos and audio-only recordings) of Leonard Cohen reciting a significant number of his own poems as well as a few works by others: Poems Recited By Leonard Cohen.

I’ve included a screenshot below (click on image to enlarge) of the first few poems listed to offer a sense of the available recitations. The actual Poems Recited By Leonard Cohen list is, of course, much larger.

New Yorker Publishes “Drank A Lot” By Leonard Cohen From The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings

i drank a lot. i lost my job.
i lived like nothing mattered.
then you stopped, and came across
my little bridge of fallen answers.

First verse excerpted from Drank a Lot by Leonard Cohen (New Yorker: September 24, 2018). The complete poem is available at the link.

“The sky demands all manner of stories, entertainments, embroideries, just as it does of its stars and constellations. The sky… wants the whole man lost in his story, abandoned in the mechanics of action, touching his fellows, leaving them, hunting the steps, dancing the old circles.” Leonard Cohen – Hydra

From “Here Was The Harbour” by Leonard Cohen, published in Parasites of Heaven (1966). The complete final verse of this prose poem follows:

Give what you want to the gulls, the sky is not satisfied with the smudges of your character. It demands stories; of men the sky demands all manner of stories, entertainments, embroideries, just as it does of its stars and constellations. The sky does not care for this trait or that affliction, it wants the whole man lost in his story, abandoned in the mechanics of action, touching his fellows, leaving them, hunting the steps, dancing the old circles. The sky wants diagrams of our lives, it stores them like little curious wrist-watches, they are our wedding gifts.

Hydra photos by Lennard Torbijn

“I was interested in writing a kind of poetry that has the same lyric limpidness as some of the Scottish Border ballads or Irish songs, and later some of the Spanish Civil War songs.” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I was interested in writing a kind of poetry that has the same lyric limpidness as some of the Scottish Border ballads or Irish songs, and later some of the Spanish Civil War songs. The kind of verse I was writing was like

My lady can sleep
Upon a handkerchief
Or if it be Fall
Upon a fallen leaf.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993)

DrHGuy Note: Those lines of poetry are from My Lady Can Sleep, published in The Spice-Box of Earth by Leonard Cohen.

My lady can sleep
Upon a handkerchief
Or if it be Fall
Upon a fallen leaf.
I have seen the hunters
kneel before her hem
Even in her sleep
She turns away from them.
The only gift they offer
Is their abiding grief
I pull out my pockets
For a handkerchief or leaf.

Originally posted Oct 24, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Ray Charles & Marianne – “Still companions of the heart / as I measure myself once more / against the high sweet standards / of my youth” Leonard Cohen 1978

While not as well known as his poem, “Days of Kindness,” Leonard Cohen’s “Much Later” from Book Of Longing also evocatively describes his days with Marianne, in this case, listening to Ray Charles in sun-drenched Hydra.

Much Later
From Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Ray Charles singing You Win Again
in the sunlight
twenty years ago
Ray Charles the singer I would never be
and my young wife
‘the wife of my youth’
smiling at me from an upstairs room
in the old house
Ray Charles and Marianne
dear spirits of my Greek life
now in the sunshine of every new summer
Marianne coming down the steps
‘the woman of the house’
Ray Charles speaking fiercely
for our virgin humanity
Twenty years ago
and again in this Hollywood summer
still companions of the heart
as I measure myself once more
against the high sweet standards
of my youth

– Los Angeles 1978

“My little life: so loyal, so devoted to its obscure purposes – And, I hasten to report, doing fine without me.” Leonard Cohen

 

REPORT TO R.S.B.
From Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Peace did not come into my life.
My life escaped
and peace was there.
Often I bump into my life,
trying to catch its breath,
pay a bill,
or tolerate the news,
tripping as usual
over the cables
of someone’s beauty –
My little life:
so loyal,
so devoted to its obscure purposes –
And, I hasten to report,
doing fine without me.

DrHGuy Note: R.S.B. is, I suspect, Ramesh S. Balsekar