Interview with Marianne Ihlen
by Kari Hesthamar, Norway, 2005





MARIANNE:               It's very quiet on the ocean today, or the sea…is  probably what we call it. Movement Now let' see..

Hah, imagine having the stereo deck on so low. Opa, let's go!


Leonard Cohen: So Long, Marianne/Marianne sings along


MARIANNE:               You know, last night… I had a very strange dream last night. During the past 40 years of my life  I still dream about Leonard. Irrespective of whether he is with someone else or what the scene is around it, it is a positive dream for me. But last night he showed up again in my dream. And then he says: ”Marianne, you must not talk so much.” And here I am sitting looking at you, and you make me talk, talk, talk, talk. Yes, yes!


Leonard Cohen:              Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began

to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again


NARRATOR:               ”So Long, Marianne.” Leonard Cohen's old Norwegian  sweetheart. At last I was to hear the story behind the song.



MARIANNE:               All the weird stuff that is written, which is just wild fantasy. Very well. I have never had the strength to describe how it was. There are very, very, very many who have wanted to meet me, but it has sort of not... I have never understood why. But it is much easier to talk about these things now than it has ever been. And that is the only reason that I have felt like meeting you.


NARRATOR:               I have seen the picture of her on the back of the record sleeve for "Songs from a Room". Marianne in a white, Greek room. Sitting in front of the typewriter belonging to Leonard Cohen. She looked so incredibly innocent and young. Cohen said she was the most beautiful woman he had ever met.



MARIANNE:               I never felt that I looked like much at all. I didn't believe it when Leonard said ”you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen”. And he has continued saying that. But what I mean is that... I think I had too round a face. So I have gone round looking down all my life. But after all I did have… you know the sun bleached my hair, and after all you were … in Greece you were so blonde, so blonde, so blonde, because there they were mostly dark. Skinny. Almost no boobs. laughs To my great regret. 


NARRATOR:               Leonard then, what did he look like?


MARIANNE:            Oh, he was beautiful! Haven't you seen pictures of Leonard when he was young? Oh yes, you have. He was marvellous. Neither did he think that he looked like much. We both had problems. You have no idea. We often stood in front of the mirror before going out and wondered who we were today and stuff like that. Oh god, how strange we human beings are, you know... Look, there's a duck coming...


NARRATOR:           We are in her little house, at the beachside at Larkollen, where she grew up with her grandmother during the war.


MARIANNE:            I am so used to this curtain, but for you I actually ought to have raised it. pulls up the French blinds


NARRATOR:           She has been married for 25 years. Is still pretty with grey hair and lines in her face. Only a few weeks old Marianne was placed on her grandmother's kitchen table.


MARIANNE:            And then my grandmother relates: ”And so I lifted you up, and then I looked deep into your eyes, and I said: Finally you have arrived, my little princess!” And then she had this kind of thing…  ”I see, and I know, Marianne”. And she said this once when I was little. It was that: ”You are going to meet a man who speaks with a tongue of gold.” And when I sort of think of the choice of men later, well it has been... I would say... the most golden tongue of them all has without a doubt been Leonard Cohen, anyway.


Leonard Cohen: ”If it be your will”  


If it be your will

                                   That a voice be true

                                   From this broken hill

                                   I will sing to you

                                   From this broken hill

                                   All your praises they shall ring

                                   If it be your will

                                   To let me sing


MARIANNE:            I had after all a long time ago a great urge to be creative myself. Well, I was going to try to get into the Theatre School. And I was so opposed by my mother and father that I lost all my courage and didn't dare. And I believe it was this which in a way made me run away. That was what made the whole thing collapse.


NARRATOR:            It was the end of the 50s, and she didn't even know that Leonard Cohen existed. Marianne was 22 years old, and in love with the author and bohemian Axel Jensen (well-known Norwegian author).


MARIANNE:            He was going travelling. He was off to a country he had never been to. He had travelled around the whole world before he met me. He managed to pull me up by my roots. And so we made our way down to Greece in -58. I ran away from home.


NARRATOR:            And because the boat from Athens happened to stop there, they landed on Hydra, where a lot of other artists had already settled.


MARIANNE:            This isn't just something I am making up. Not because it was my island, but it is the prettiest island in the Aegean. Anyhow, first of all the harbour is formed like a horseshoe. And then the little white-washed town just crawls up along the mountain all around the place. And there are no cars. There are only stairways.

And the boat stops far from shore. And so you were ferried in by smaller craft. And I arrived in mid December. And there was storm, there was rain, and it was so cold. And then there was only electricity one hour in the evening, and one hour in the morning. And paraffin lamps.


                                    To begin with we found a very small house that we rented, with an outdoor loo and everything. And so Axel received an advance for  ”Line”, or was it  ”Ikaros”…? (well-known Norwegian novels)

And we went round searching for a house. And so we found one that was magnificent. With a huge hole in the floor and whatever. I mean, it was mostly ruins, but it cost 13 000 Norwegian kroner, so we couldn't afford it. And again we rushed off. Onward. And we found one that cost 11 000. And it looked like an eagle's nest. You know ”stuck in the mountain”. Now that house is a … yes, it's owned by one of the biggest shipping magnates in Athens. And so now it is … it has a swimming pool… It is situated so… You have it there! It hangs up there! Here is the port down here. Then we had a dog and a pussycat.


INTERVIEWER:       How beautiful. Is that you?


MARIANNE:            Yes, that's me. That's the way up to the house. Then you climb the stairs there. That was the good time. But at a very early stage there was something that came amiss.


Leonard Cohen: ”Tonight will be fine”


Sometimes I find I get to thinking of the past

                                    We swore to each other then that our love

would surely last

You kept right on loving, I went on a fast

Now I am too thin and your love is too vast


MARIANNE:            You see, Axel and I we walked barefoot. We had two clean T-shirts and two pairs of trousers each, and were poor. But we were clean. The first prominent man we met was Onassis. 


                                    You see, the island consisted of some enormously rich families, who no longer lived there permanently. They came down on weekends, with baskets of flowers, and a cook's maid and servant and all that. So we were invited to these cocktail parties, as they were then called, six o'clock, ”for drinks”. ”Before dinner.” And we landed in that… and there we met Onassis.

Jacqueline Kennedy was there, and Princess Margareth and… And then all the famous artists arrived. 


                                    So you see, the first year on Hydra was fantastic, because he wrote and he wrote and he wrote. And I ran down and shopped and bought food and … Yes, I was his Greek Muse, who sat at his feet. And he was the creative one. 


                                    But then all these other women entered our life. First time it was one with dark hair, and then... What did Marianne do, then? Yes, she dyed her hair. Jet black. Woke up in the morning and sort of saw black hair on the pillow and wondered "god, who is this?" laughs It was damned tough. It sure was. 


                                    And also Axel had to go to Norway all the time. Yes, for the publishing of books and god knows what. Oh, it's such a long story that it can hardly be made all that short, but...


NARRATOR:            The story I have always heard is that Leonard Cohen stole Marianne from Axel Jensen. In reality it was always new women who were taking her place. Finally she decided to leave Axel and Hydra.


MARIANNE:            I was strong enough to say: ”All right, now I'll travel home to my father, and he'll be proven right.” It wasn't Axel I was going to marry. 


INTERVIEWER:       So then you returned to Norway, is that it?


MARIANNE:            Yes, but before that I had to pass by my best friends in Athens. And who but Axel Jensen comes visiting. At that point he'd been boozing for 6 weeks. The woman who was to come didn't show up. Sold the ticket, pocketed the cash. And that evening he said he wanted to marry me. And so I said yes, because that was what I really wanted. That was after all what I wished to do. It was what I had hoped would happen. I do not regret it...


Leonard Cohen: ”Stranger Song”

It’s true that all the men you knew were dealers

who said they were through with dealing

Every time you gave them shelter


MARIANNE:            I love this song.


I know that kind of man

It’s hard to hold the hand of anyone

who is reaching for the sky just to surrender


NARRATOR:            It was the summer of 1958, and Marianne and Axel were married in the English church in Athens.


who is reaching to the sky just to surrender.


NARRATOR:            A year later Marianne was expecting a  child. Little Axel was underway.


An then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind

you find he did not leave you very much

not even laughter

Like any dealer he was watching for the card

that is so high and wild

he’ ll never need to deal another


MARIANNE:            But what happened afterwards was just sad, because I went home, had my baby. By then Axel had published a new novel, and couldn't stay in Norway very long at a time because he would then have to pay taxes to Norway. So I didn't come down with my baby before … Little Axel was just over 4 months, 4 ½ months. And by then Axel was way over the hills again. In the meantime he had found yet another woman. And in the middle of all this commotion Leonard Cohen shows up.


                                    I was standing in the shop with my basket waiting to pick up bottled water and milk. And he is standing in the door way with the sun behind him. And then you don't see the face, you just see the contours. And so I hear his voice, saying: ”Would you like to join us, we’re sitting outside?”

                                    And I reply thank you, and I finish my shopping. Then I go outside. And I sit down at this table where there were 3-4 people sitting, who lived in Hydra at the time.


INTERVIEWER:       Can you remember what he looked like?


MARIANNE:            He was wearing khaki trousers, which were a shade more green. And also he had his beloved… what we in the old days called tennis shoes. And he also always  wore shirts with rolled up sleeves. In addition he had a beautiful little sixpence cap.

What I didn't know when I met him was that he knew everything about what had happened before I returned. Because after all he had been there, and realised what was going on. So I think that already when he saw me he had enormous compassion for me and my child. But I remember well that when my eyes met his eyes I felt it throughout my body. You know what that is.   Drums her fingers  It is utterly incredible.


                                    So then I was on my way up Kala Pegadia, to my little house. And the last hump is very, very steep, so you are completely drenched in sweat when you reach the house. And the basket was very heavy. And there she was, that sweet little Eveganina, who had been with Axel and played with him. And so she left. And then I was very… I was almost a bit intoxicated. Right away I put on some music, I remember. Danced around a bit, and thought it all of a sudden was such fun to be with my son and... felt it was simple and fine and... And even if he wasn't put to bed at once it was  all right. A lightness had come over me.


Leonard Cohen: ”I’m Your Man”


                                    If you want a lover

                                    I’ll do anything you ask me to

                                    And if you want another kind of love

                                    I’ll wear a mask for you

                                    If you want a partner

                                    Take my hand

                                    Or if you want to strike me down in anger

                                    Here I stand

                                    I’m your man


NARRATOR:            This was May 1960, and Marianne was 25 years old. But even though she danced herself home after her first meeting with Leonard Cohen, it was still Axel Jensen she was waiting for. He had set off on a boating trip to find out if he ought to choose  Marianne or his American mistress. 


MARIANNE:            So I remember when we were saying goodbye to him and seeing him sail off I actually was a bit happy, because I felt that after all perhaps there was still hope. Therefore I invited some friends up to my little house, since I couldn't go out all that much, as I had the baby. And I can remember it was the blossoming season. It was the end of May, and the whole veranda was full of these flowers which are white in the middle and yellow all round. So I'd pinch the flowers off, and put them in an envelope with a small note on which I wrote: ”I love you.”


NARRATOR:            A young American, who was visiting Marianne, noticed her putting the flowers in the letter. Next day he continued his journey to Athens. Marianne's letter was sent with the same ship.


MARIANNE:            And that was a strange story, because Axel Jensen hadn't intended to go off on that boat and find out whom he really loved. He voyaged to the next island and met this woman, and then the two of them sailed together to Athens. And at American Express, next day, there they both were, and Axel picked up his mail, opened that letter and these flowers fell out. As it happened this American was queuing beside them waiting for his mail, and he thought: ”This must be the letter from Marianne. This must be Axel.” After all he didn't know him. So he took the ship back to Hydra. And he came up to me, and he says: ”I just had to tell you, Marianne, that they are together.” ”He's not out yachting to sound out his feelings.” At that I understood now it's all over. sighs


                                    No, ouff, I can't relate all of this here. There has been so much. There's been so much. I don't know how I have taken it, when I think about it.  music  Now we need some tea..


Leonard Cohen: ”Hey that’s no way to say goodbye.”


I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,

                                    your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,


MARIANNE:            Mmm. It's quite incredible. sings


yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,

                                    in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,

                                    but now it’s come to distances and both of us must try,

                                    your eyes are soft with sorrow,

                                    Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.


Great heavens, what an uproar all the time…

So Leonard and I began to meet. Early in the day we would maybe go down to the beach. Sometimes little Axel and I would accompany him up to the small house he had rented, for it wasn't so high up.  And we'd prepare lunch. And then little Axel would fall asleep, and then he'd read poems for me, and then… So we started seeing each other during the days.

But that story that Axel all the time… ”Leonard Cohen took my wife or whatever he calls it” No, it was… that wasn't how it was. He even drove me all the way home to Norway in this car that Axel had brought with him down there. I wasn't exactly pampered in being used to meeting a man who behaved the way he did. I have to say that. He in fact reminded me very much of grandma. Her energy, her enormous presence. You could really trust in him. It was like... is it really possible to be so fond of me as he says he is? You know?! I can impossibly be all that much.

He then drove me all the way home to Norway in this car. That was when I understood this was something more than friendship. But at that point I was knocked out. I was very... that's when reactions set in. One after the other. But when he went back to Montreal it didn't take long before I received a telegram: ”Have house, all I need is my woman and her son. Love Leonard.” That's how it was.


NARRATOR:            And Marianne emigrated from Oslo to Montreal with tiny Axel and a couple of suitcases of clothes. 


MARIANNE:            Imagine, I emigrated. And I remember little Axel and Leonard sat in the bathtub writing on a typewriter under water. laughs

It's really weird to think about, but when I saw Leonard's hands for the first time, it was like seeing my father's hands. Slightly stubby. But he could type fast on a machine. laughter


                                    There is a very beautiful poem which is unpublished. And I have to show it to you. I really am not much at reading, but I can try. 



Music                          (Leonard Cohen: ”Undertow”)

MARIANNE:             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’m restless as an empire

                                    You are the woman who released me

                                    I saw you watching the moon

                                    You did not hesitate to love me with it

                                    At night I saw you dance alone on the small wet pebbles of the shore line

                                    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 his perfume and his visions

                                    Without demand of blood


Leonard Cohen: ”Undertow”


                                    With a child in my arms
And a chill in my soul
And my heart the shape
Of a begging bowl


NARRATOR:            Marianne, little Axel and Leonard remained living in Montreal for a year before they returned to Hydra.


MARIANNE.            Mmm, how strange. That's on Leonard's terrace. February –63. When Axel was three. He's been wearing a T-shirt you see, he is black and brown on his arms and legs, but not on his tummy.


INTERVIEWER:       So how was Leonard as a father?


MARIANNE:            Well, actually, he… I was terrified that Axel was going to disturb him, because he had to write. But what happened was that Axel would be lying prone on the floor drawing. And didn't say a word. He was a nightmare with me. Then he would… uhuhuhu. You know what kids are like with mother. And so then Leonard would elegantly open the door into his tiny atelier, and say: ”Axel, I need your help.” And then it would be deadly silent in there for two hours. And little Axel drew and Leonard wrote. That's how I experienced it. And little Axel was enormously proud. He called him Cohne.


                                       Oh, those years were really good. Very good. We sat in the sun and we lay in the sun, we walked in the sun, we listened to music, we bathed, we played, we drank, we discussed. There was writing and lovemaking and... It was absolutely fabulous, you know, to have it like that. During five years I didn't have shoes on my feet, you know. Sure, sure, in the wintertime I had something on my feet, but... And I met many beautiful people. Now they are cast to the winds. Some are dead. Many are dead… Now I have to put the rolls in the oven.  


Leonard Cohen: ”Dance Me to the End of Love”


                                       Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

                                       Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

                                       Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

                                       Dance me to the end of love

                                       Dance me to the end of love


Papers rustling


MARIANNE:               More letters from Leonard. Would you say there are many love letters, then? I'm quite sure. And there's Leonard's Russian bed. Iron bed. Isn't it great?


INTERVIEWER:          It's awesome..

                                       And then that's you?


MARIANNE:               Yes, that's me. In my… my Mari Mekko dress. I have been a model a lot.


INTERVIEWER:          I must say  you have really especially beautiful pictures. This isn't one of those usual average family albums you have here.


MARIANNE:            laughs  No, it isn't. But then again I have never lived one of those average family lives either, I have to honestly admit. After all that was what I was trying to escape from.


NARRATOR:            Marianne and Leonard were lovers into their second year. However the break-up with Axel still smarted. 


MARIANNE:            I had suffered such a big shock that I was in a state of shock in which I sort of wasn't neither here nor there. I didn't have a foothold. And at the same time having a child and all. It was really tough. I think that in many ways I maybe was able to float a bit above the difficulties which I found myself in the middle of. I was not much present in myself. But I didn't know that at the time. So if he hadn't been so patient then I don't know if we would have been together. For when I was dancing Greek dances and drinking retsina he would sit there waiting for me till I was finished dancing and drinking my retsina. And then we went home together. And then it would be so incredibly peaceful and so harmonious to be with him, because there was such tranquillity. One could in a way say that it was a bit old-fashioned. The way you in many ways would think it would be fantastic that a young boy can be, right? And it made a strong impression on me.


Leonard Cohen: ”Because of”


Look at me, Leonard
Look at me one last time.


MARIANNE:            laughter. Yes…

then they bend over the bed

                                    and cover me up like a baby

that is shivering

Like a baby

Like a baby….


MARIANNE:            Yes, I guess I was seen for the first time, perhaps. That is very important. Later in life I have realised that Leonard saw something in me that I wasn't aware of at the time. So I don't know if you remember some lines from his latest CD. ”Look at me one more time, Leonard.” And that… Then I thought: ”Why is he still writing songs that I actually have noted down the first line of or a part of the chorus, in jest to myself?” Because very often I have said when I have met friends and acquaintances: ”Oh, I would have loved to have met him now, so he could see me now.” Know what I mean? And then along comes that song.


Marianne reads         

Oh, look at me, Leonard

                                    Look at me one last time


Leonard Cohen:           Look at me , Leonard


Marianne reads           then they bend over te bed


Leonard Cohen:           look at me one last time

                                    then they bend over the bed


Marianne reads           and cover me up like a baby


Leonard Cohen:           …cover me up like a baby

that is shivering

                                    Like a baby

Llike a baby…


NARRATOR:           But it wasn't only Marianne who wanted to be seen by Leonard Cohen.


MARIANNE:            laughs Most of all I wanted to cage him in and lock him up. Swallow the key. No, I was jealous. Because he was so incredibly sought after. And also he was a … he was so entertaining and so courteous and so... All the time... He was equally compassionate towards everyone, in a sense. For example, if he had finished working he would go down to the port earlier, for example. Then we would eat dinner later, and then I would wait for the babysitter and perhaps I would come down an hour or two after him. And every time he would be sitting at the table with some or other fantastic woman. laughs  And… like Helen who stands up and says: ”Now I have conquered your man!” You know.

But I mean, it was all a joke, and it was just good friendship. But it riled me each and every time. laughs It was like being stabbed, you know. That's the way it goes when you choose those kind of strong, handsome, tall and dark, handsome men, right? Good gracious. All the girls were panting for him. You have no idea how hurt I felt. And that destroyed so much. But after all it was my own insecurity. I should have just held my head high and thought: ”But it is me he is living with. It is me he has chosen.” And then… Yes, I would dare go as far as to say that I was on the verge of killing myself due to it. I just wanted to die.


                                     There was this fabulous young model from New York, who came to Hydra. And they disappeared for an entire day. And so I imagined all kinds of things. I curled up like a small foetus, and built a large wooden coffin around me, an imaginary one, of course. People who passed by actually thought I was dead.


INTERVIEWER:       What do you mean "people who passed by actually thought you were dead"?


MARIANNE:            Well no, but I actually remained lying on the floor there, so I did. 24 hours. I refused to communicate with the outside world.

I don't want to stir up more sorrow. Oh!

                                    God, how much pain one can suffer!


Leonard Cohen:  ”Bird on the Wire”


Like a bird on the wire

                                    like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way to be free


Footsteps outside


MARIANNE:            It’s quiet today.

Yes, it's Tarjei there. Come on. Yes, come on then. You'll get lunch today as well, you lucky devil. Yes, come here, you, Tarjei Vesaas (a swan, named after a famous Norwegian author). Powerful fine bird. He has survived, he has. Yes, you're fine aren't you. It's a lonely life, isn't it?


If I, if I  have been unkind

I hope that you can just let it go by


”Like a bird on the wire

                                    I have tried in my way to be free”

                                    It is great to write songs, for you can actually manage to say a lot which you at the moment maybe aren't able to carry out. But by and by that's what you have to do to survive.


                                    ”Bird on the Wire”... That was when electricity came to Hydra, you know,  and they would land on these strange wires that suddenly cut right in front of the window. Just like notes.

                                    Magnificent. Therefore I felt that it was also my song. But of course everyone refers to ”So long Marianne”.


INTERVIEWER:       Well but you have always been her that got that fantastic song...



MARIANNE:            Yes. Yes… But he has written a lot of other good stuff too. My goodness. I have started to read some of his poems again. I sat here yesterday reading many poems. For I think the poems he has written to me … I feel more at home there. Then it's about us. Much more than in  ”So Long, Marianne”. This little one here, for example.


                                    I sort of feel.., I have participated in that book, in many ways.


INTERVIEWER:       In addition it is dedicated to you.


MARIANNE:            Is it? Yes, perhaps it is. Is it? I haven't even considered that. Are you sure? No. leafs Oh, there its says so, yes! Discretely out on the left side.

                                    Well, I didn't know that. But that was nice. Yes, but I was a part of it. We have written it together.


NARRATOR:            More than five years had passed since Marianne and Leonard met for the first time. Leonard wrote poems and songs, and eventually commuted more and more between Greece, Montreal and New York. Marianne and tiny Axel remained alone on Hydra.


MARIANNE:            He often had to cross the great dam, as we said. Both in search of inspiration, and for to, as he said: ”… become a little more miserable again.” And then we couldn't afford to travel all of us. Therefore I was often alone on Hydra. I was. And it came to the point where I didn't want to be alone anymore. I felt it was awfully sad. It wasn't enough to play home and castle and all that stuff. It therefore resulted in me asking to come along. And that period there, it... it was dramatic, on very many levels. 


NARRATOR:            Leonard's career was accelerating, and after about three years on Hydra the small family again moved back to Montreal.


MARIANNE:            That was when ”Sisters of Mercy” was written. Leonard travelled a lot. It began to dawn on me that something was about to happen. Yes, how long at a time does one remain in love before one has to renew oneself? I can exactly recognise the situation in our lives we were in then, where you suddenly find that you cannot communicate properly together. We couldn't get anywhere. I didn't understand what he was saying, he didn't understand what I was saying. I could not put into words how I felt. Leonard naturally immersed himself in his writing, and continued with his songs.


                                    And in order to try to alleviate everything I left for Mexico, to visit my old friend. I took little Axel with me. And it was a very strong experience. Among the indians. In those mountains. Well, it was absolutely incredible. At that point I had a feeling that I in a sense was very close to God. I was almost convinced that I would never come down off that mountain.

                                    So that was my sojourn from Montreal, when the world was in danger of falling apart. When I returned I brought back a woven Mexican blanket. And it was the man and the woman. So when I came home to Montreal Leonard and I sat under that blanket a while. Then we actually began sitting still both of us and letting everything settle down.

                                    We had had so many retreats, and we tried and we tried. Neither of us really felt like giving up completely.

Now I just have to sit and become warm again inside... 


NARRATOR:            Marianne wasn't permanently back in Norway again until 1973. 38 years old.


MARIANNE:            Would you like to hear my singing bowl?




Hum of the singing bowl


Music                         ”I tried to leave You”




Days of Kindness

Greece is a good place
To look at the moon, isn’t it
You can read by the moonlight
You can read on the terrace
You can see a face
As you saw it when you were young
There was good light then
Oil lamps and candles
And those little flames
That floated on a cork in olive oil
What I loved in my old life
I haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
The days of kindness
It rises in my spine
And it manifests as tears
I pray that a loving memory
Exists for them too
The precious ones I overthrew
For an education in the world



MARIANNE:              This relationship was a gift to me. And a gift for Leonard, I might

also add, not to underestimate myself completely. And that's what it was. However, I think it has been sort of an opener for the rest of life for us both, for better or worse. Just this morning I was reading, a few short lines, you know, which you can read a couple of every day, where I repeat and repeat this about it being through the hardest blows in life that you really have the chance to move on, as it were. Out of the sorrow, you know.



What is the distance between weeping and laughter? I mean, it is the whole of that… It's good on one side, and it's bad on the other side. I mean, when it's dark it's dark because light is gone. And when it's light then darkness is gone. But it is the same thing.


Leonard Cohen:          


I tried to leave you, I don’t deny

                                    I closed the book on us, at least a hundred times.

                                    I’d wake up in the morning by your side.


MARIANNE:            My life resides in my body. You carry your entire past in your body. It is the one who remembers when there was pain. When there was joy. When there were difficulties and when you were afraid. And a couple of times today I have felt that I have held my breath. Memories stirred and woke, sort of.

And then I feel like saying like Leonard, but this is coming from me: ”Don’t believe a word I’ve said. Don’t believe a word I’ve said. It’s all a dream.”

© 2005, 2006 Kari Hesthamar, Norway

Special thanks to Kari for the translation
of the transcript and help in creating this page!

Listen to the interview (in Norwegian)
on the NRK website

More about Hydra on this website

Visit the website of Axel Jensen

* * *

Posted here with permission of Kari Hesthamar,
Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen

Black and white pictures from the photo album of © Leonard Cohen
Color photos © 2004 Jarkko Arjatsalo