Lithograph by Rosengarten


I left a woman waiting
I met her sometime later
she said, Your eyes are dead
What happened to you, lover

And since she spoke the truth to me
I tried to answer truly
Whatever happened to my eyes
happened to your beauty

O go to sleep my faithful wife
I told her rather cruelly
Whatever happened to my eyes
happened to your beauty

Leonard Cohen

John Brinckman tells the story:

"I am in possession of a copy of The Lines of the Poet, a very rare book, only 100 copies were made, aside from a few hors de commerce copies.

The book, entirely made by hand in 1981, features 13 hand pulled lithograph portraits of Canadian poets in a quarto with one of their poems (signed), drawn by Morton (Mort) Rosengarten, Leonard Cohen's boyhood best friend, who is an established Montreal artist and sculptor. Leonard of course is in it, wearing a cowboy hat, and the poem is a love poem, a particularly bitter one (I Left A Woman Waiting). Michael Ondatjee and Margaret Atwood are among the other poets.

Copies originally sold for $2,500 Canadian funds and disappeared into private libraries, although one copy was framed and hangs in the library, formerly a chapel, of Dawson College in Montreal, a gift from an anonymous donor. Not many people know this book exists.

The poems were chosen by the editor of the book, Doug Jones, a poet himself and well known to Leonard, and the theme that he chose for the poems was love. I don't think the poem is well known at all. So we have here a poem that another poet chose as most characteristically representing Leonard's poems on the subject of love..."

Leonard's comment: "incidentally, that is not a 'cowboy hat' but a regular mens' felt fedora. A 'cowboy hat' has a much larger brim and usually a higher crown (haven't worn one since those days when we dressed up as the Buckskin Boys)."

Irving Layton
Lithograph by Rosengarten

Poem © 1972 Leonard Cohen
(from The Energy Of Slaves).
Lithographs © Rosengarten.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with authors' permissions.

Thanks to John Brinckman for the material used on this page.

Visit The National Library of Canada for more information and electronic version of the book!