Poems and photos by Leonard Cohen

Hydra 1960

(Flowers for Hitler, 1964)

Anything that moves is white,
a gull, a wave, a sail,
and moves too purely to be aped.
Smash the pain.

Never pretend peace.
The consolumentum has not,
never will be kissed. Pain
cannot compromise this light.

Do violence to the pain,
ruin the easy vision,
the easy warning, water
for those who need to burn.

These are ruthless: rooster shriek,
bleached goat skull.
Scalpels grow with poppies
if you see them truly red.

Hydra 1963

(Flowers for Hitler, 1964)

The stony path coiled around me
and bound me to the night.
A boat hunted the edge of the sea
under a hissing light.

Something soft involved a net
and bled around a spear.
The blunt death, the cumulus jet
I spoke to you, I thought you near!
Or was the night so black
that something died alone?
A man with a glistening back
beat the food against a stone.

The Poetry Place

(Unpublished, 1967)

This is for you
it is my full heart
it is the book I meant to read you
when we were old
Now I am a shadow
I am restless as an empire
You are the woman
who released me
I saw you watching the moon
you did note hesitate
to love me with it
I saw you honouring the wind-flowers
caught in the rocks
you loved me with them
At night I saw you dance alone
on the small wet pebbles
of the shoreline
and you welcomed me into the circle
more than a guest
All this happened
in the truth of time
in the truth of flesh
I saw you with a child
you brought me to this perfume
and his visions
without demand of blood
On so many wooden tables
adorned with food and candles
a thousand sacraments
which you carried in your basket
I visited my clay
I visited my birth
and you guarded my back
as I became small
and frightened enough
to be born again
I wanted you for your beauty
and you gave me more than yourself
you shared your beauty
this I only learned tonight
as I recall the mirrors
you walked away from
after you had given them
whatever they claimed
for my initiation
Now I am a shadow
I long for the boundaries
of my wandering
and I move
with the energy of your prayer
and I move
in the direction of your prayer
for you are kneeling
like a bouquet
in a cave of a bone
behind my forehead
and I move toward a love
you have dreamed for me


Poems and photos © Leonard Cohen. Reprinted
with permission. All rights reserved.