The song Alexandra Leaving on
Ten New Songs is based on this poem.

(based on The God Abandons Antony,
a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy)

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
Some deity preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
they slip between the sentries of your heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
they gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
and radiant beyond your widest measure
they fall among the voices and the wine.

lt's not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
a fitful dream the morning will exhaust---
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving,
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin.
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined,
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music, Alexandra laughing.
Your first commitments tangible again.

You who had the honor of her evening,
And by that honor had your own restored---
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked---
Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect,

You who were bewildered by a meaning,
whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed---
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Hydra, Greece
September 1999

Copyright © 1999-2001 by Leonard Cohen.
Reprinted here with Leonard Cohen's permission.
All rights reserved.