Leonard singing an early version
of A Thousand Kisses Deep
(Captured from Armelle Brusq's
documentary Spring 1996)

The song A Thousand Kisses Deep on
Ten New Songs is based on this poem.

For Those Who Greeted Me *)

1. You came to me this morning
And you handled me like meat.
You´d have to live alone to know
How good that feels, how sweet.
My mirror twin, my next of kin,
I´d know you in my sleep.
And who but you would take me in
A thousand kisses deep?

2. I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat.
I´m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique -
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep.

3. All soaked in sex, and pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
We made it to the forward deck
I blessed our remnant fleet -
And then consented to be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep.

4. I know you had to lie to me,
I know you had to cheat.
But the Means no longer guarantee
The Virtue in Deceit.
That truth is bent, that beauty spent,
That style is obsolete -
Ever since the Holy Spirit went
A thousand kisses deep.

5. (So what about this Inner Light
That´s boundless and unique?
I´m slouching through another night
A thousand kisses deep.)

6. I´m turning tricks; I´m getting fixed,
I´m back on Boogie Street.
I tried to quit the business -
Hey, I´m lazy and I´m weak.
But sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go
A thousand kisses deep.

7. (And fragrant is the thought of you,
The file on you complete -
Except what we forgot to do
A thousand kisses deep.)

8. The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it´s done -
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it´s real
A thousand kisses deep.

9. (I jammed with Diz and Dante -
I did not have their sweep -
But once or twice, they let me play
A thousand kisses deep.)

10. And I´m still working with the wine,
Still dancing cheek to cheek.
The band is playing "Auld Lang Syne" -
The heart will not retreat.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep -
You ditch it all to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep.

11. And now you are the Angel Death
And now the Paraclete;
And now you are the Savior's Breath
And now the Belsen heap.
No turning from the threat of love,
No transcendental leap -
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep.

September 21, 1998

*)I have been working on this song for a long time.
It seemed to come together a few days ago.
I want to dedicate it to those very kind people
(more like my family) who greeted me on my birthday,
and who, so generously, have embraced my work.

Leonard Cohen; September 24, 1998

"This is getting pretty close. (...) The process has
become rather comic. But I think we've got it now. It took
the crisis of posting it to your site to force a clarification
of the text (after three years of secret tinkering). There is
an apparent violation of the metre in some verses (e.g. #4) but
the old poets would have justified them with devices such as
th'Holy Spirit, or th'Means. And these curiosities actually
correspond to the accents of the poem when it is sung. This
version represents a distillation of many, many verses, all of
them tottering over the final line, A thousand kisses deep.
I hope this is an end to it for a while."

Leonard Cohen; September 26, 1998 (Quoted with permission)

Copyright © 1998-2001 Leonard Cohen.
Reprinted with permission.
Any other use forbidden.