Q: What ambitions do you still have to fulfill? Leonard Cohen “I would like to liberate all beings from their suffering. And I would like to sever every poisonous desire at its root.” (1994)

From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994. Originally posted Sept 5, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Autumn here [in Montreal], the one I always remembered, red trees and sunlight, a bright wind swirling the leaves and skirts, the buildings more solid for all the fragile movement of the trees and walkers.” Leonard Cohen Writing To Redmond Wallis In 1963

Leonard Cohen’s Oct 6, 1963 letter, written in Montreal, to Redmond Wallis, then living in Leonard’s home on Hydra. Archived at the National Library of New Zealand – Wellington. The photo of a very young Leonard Cohen and his sister in the woods courtesy of Maarten Massa.

“When I first came to New York…I saw [Nico] singing behind the bar. She was a sight to behold. I suppose the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen up to that moment. I just walked up & stood in front of her until people pushed me aside. I started writing songs for her then.” Leonard Cohen

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When I first came to New York – I guess it was around 1966 – Nico was singing at the Dom, which was an Andy Warhol club at the time on 8th Street. I just stumbled in there one night and I didn’t know any of these people. I saw this girl singing behind the bar. She was a sight to behold. I suppose the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen up to that moment. I just walked up and stood in front of her until people pushed me aside. I started writing songs for her then.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From September 15th 1974 by Robin Pike. ZigZag magazine: October 1974. Photo of Nico By Inn7516 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted April 29, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“There’s a lot of things that you can do [at 80] that you couldn’t do when you were younger. You depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present. And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30.” Leonard Cohen

 

At age 80, are there things you can’t do that you used to be able to?

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There’s a lot of things that you can do that you couldn’t do when you were younger. You depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present. And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014).

“I just have a sense of gratitude that I could bring anything to completion in this vale of tears.” Leonard Cohen, On Being Asked About The Satisfaction Of Finishing An Album

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His satisfaction on finishing the new album [Popular Problems]

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I don’t know how other writers feel but I just have a sense of gratitude that I could bring anything to completion in this vale of tears. So it’s the doneness of the thing that I really cherish… I think it was Auden who said ‘A poem is never finished, it’s just abandoned’ … So yes that’s all there is. Anyway, these are technical questions that I don’t think anybody really has the answer to. You can speculate on these things after the thing is finished, but while you’re working at it you just hope that you can come up with something that is respectable and you know you can get behind.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: ‘I’m a closet optimist’ [a report on the Sept 16, 2014 London Press Preview Of Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems] by Andy Morris. Gigwise, Sept 16, 2014. Photo of Leonard shining his shoes prior to a concert was taken by Kezban Özcan. A set of these photos, graciously shared with Cohencentric, also appeared in stylized format on the insert sheet of the Popular Problems album.

DrHGuy Note: About That “A poem is never finished; it’s only abandoned” Quote

Well, Auden did indeed say “A poem is never finished; it’s only abandoned,” but the context was as the answer to a question raised at An hour of questions and answers with Auden (November 15, 1971) at Swarthmore College  “Do you ever find yourself going back and correcting?”

Oh, yes, because I agree very much with Paul Valéry, who said: “A poem is never finished; it’s only abandoned.”

Yep, the original source is Paul Valery is, who wrote1

A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.

Auden’s “A poem is never finished; it’s only abandoned” is one of several variant translations and paraphrases.

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  1. Recollection, Collected Works, Vol. 1 (1972), as translated by David Paul []

“You get a fantastic singlemindedness when you are lying in one place hallucinating. For me, it ended a lot of things. I would like to say that it made me saintly.” Leonard Cohen 1966

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It seems that because [Leonard Cohen] went on a fast during the late summer of 1965 he developed a theory that almost everybody went through some kind of personal crisis around that time and that the world entered some mad new age. Cohen fasted for 12 days in his little white house on the Greek island of Hydra, where he lived for six years, returning to Canada only, as he put it, to renew his neurotic affiliation. The fast occurred after he had finished his critically acclaimed, bestselling and extremely dirty novel. Beautiful Losers. Cohen wasn’t hungry. so he decided to fast. “Finally I just flipped out,” he says. He hallucinated and got a temperature of 104. They had to give him protein injections intravenously. He stayed in bed for two months. Marianna looked after him. ”I think there are certain times in your life when, if you don’t stop, things just stop for you. You get a fantastic single-mindedness when you are lying in one place hallucinating. For me, it ended a lot of things. I would like to say that it made me saintly.”

From Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966.