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Book of Longing Limited Edition: Poems

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A limited edition, one-time printing of Leonard Cohen’s best and most iconic book of poems “Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.”--New York Times Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984's Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a A limited edition, one-time printing of Leonard Cohen’s best and most iconic book of poems “Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.”--New York Times Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984's Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California's Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author's playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous. An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen's artistry with language worldwide recognition.


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A limited edition, one-time printing of Leonard Cohen’s best and most iconic book of poems “Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.”--New York Times Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984's Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a A limited edition, one-time printing of Leonard Cohen’s best and most iconic book of poems “Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.”--New York Times Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984's Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California's Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author's playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous. An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen's artistry with language worldwide recognition.

30 review for Book of Longing Limited Edition: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    this book...basically, when he was in his sixties, leonard cohen went up a mountain to live and study in a buddhist monastery, and during the five years he was there, he was really horny and wrote a bunch of poems about it. i'm sure it didn't help that the monastery was the mt. baldy zen center, which is quite a suggestive name. leonard cohen’s always been the guy who lives on the seam where the the spiritual meets the erotic, only here he's moved away from imagery based in biblical and jewish this book...basically, when he was in his sixties, leonard cohen went up a mountain to live and study in a buddhist monastery, and during the five years he was there, he was really horny and wrote a bunch of poems about it. i'm sure it didn't help that the monastery was the mt. baldy zen center, which is quite a suggestive name. leonard cohen’s always been the guy who lives on the seam where the the spiritual meets the erotic, only here he's moved away from imagery based in biblical and jewish mystical tradition and infused his sensuality into buddhist spirituality. and somehow, when leonard cohen does it, it’s not icky, as it would be for many older gentlemen suffused with lust. is it because he was canadian? because he was dapper? or as he wrote, Because of a few songs Wherein I spoke of their mystery, Women have been Exceptionally kind To my old age. They make a secret place In their busy lives And they take me there. They become naked In their different ways And they say, "Look at me, Leonard Look at me one last time." Then they bend over the bed And cover me up Like a baby that is shivering. it's a little bit from all of those columns; his generosity and humility and classiness, but it’s also his humor. he opens a poem called The Death of Zen with a description of cunnilingus, and this poem most certainly speaks to the difficulty of pursuing a spiritual journey when the physical urges won’t go gently: EARLY MORNING AT MT. BALDY Alarm awakened me at 2:30 a.m.: got into my robes kimono and hakama modelled after the 12th-century archer's costume: on top of this the koroma a heavy outer garment with impossibly large sleeves: on top of this the ruksu a kind of patchwork bib which incorporates an ivory disc: and finally the four-foor serpentine belt that twists into a huge handsome knot resembling a braided challah and covers the bottom of the ruksu: all in all about 20 pounds of clothing which I put on quickly at 2:30 a.m. over my enormous hard-on as a collection, the poems aren’t his best; a little indulgent, a little scattered, a little forced, like someone poeticizing their diary, and some of it is straight-up bragging and, oh, those drawings. leonard cohen was very fond of doodling ladybutts and boobs, the stuff of a 12-year-old boy’s spiral notebook, with more realistic proportions: also fond of self-portraits, most of which make his face appear to be melting on a hot day, but a few with captions that made me laugh ladybutts, meditation, self-reflection, more ladybutts, pretty words, nothing jaw-dropping here. as far as the man goes, he gets all the stars for writing the songs that have hypnotized me, consoled me, inspired me, and been my soundtrack since i discovered him when i was fifteen. but these poems...they are not his best. these are more metaphysical and meandering. they're all over the place. some of them were later turned into songs appearing on the less-beloved albums (Ten New Songs and Dear Heather) in between The Future and Old Ideas when he started getting great again. it’s worth reading, because some of them have that pure cohen grace, like the introduction to the chinese-language translation of Beautiful Losers, and it’s always kind of fascinating to watch a master at work, in the category of “how are you making this not sound skeevy, old man?” OPENED MY EYES G-d opened my eyes this morning loosened the bands of sleep let me see the waitress’s tiny earrings and the merest foothills of her small breasts multiplied her front and back in the double mirrors of the restaurant granted to me speed and the penetration of layers and turned me like a spindle so I could gather in and make my own every single version of her beauty Thank You Ruler of the World Thank You for calling me Honey in neil strauss' diary, that would be condensed to "ogled a waitress" however he did it - it worked. i must confess, when he came to my store to sign stock of this very book and i was chosen to be in the green room with him for several hours, handing him the flapped books, i stood far closer than was strictly necessary or professional and at one point i absolutely pressed my ladygroin* against the back of his suited shoulder, because that's one of those opportunities you don't pass up. he didn't even notice, but at the end of the event, i brazenly** gave him a copy of a poem i'd adapted from one of his songs, and he emailed me a reply: thank you for your song a master song can't seem to sleep and the next few times he performed in nyfc, he set aside a few tickets for me for each of his shows. so perhaps i had some ladymagic after all. all of that makes it super-weird that i never even read this book. i have several signed copies of it from that day, i have the new posthumous edition with even MORE nude doodles, and i even went to this philip glass concert which married glass' doodly-doo music to the poems and artwork from this book. but i always like to save a little something from authors i like, just in case. and now that "just in case" has actually occurred, i’m glad to have gotten this in my pagehabit box to give me a little kick in the butt. it’s not my favorite, but at least it’s something more from someone i will always adore. an all-new posthumous book, The Flame, is out in october 2018, for those of you interested. * adding the word “lady” to something makes it sound elegant and classy. ** the fact that i have determined "giving someone a poem" to be more brazen than "unsolicited pressing of my delicate flower upon a person" is something i need to have a think about. this book was part of my quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit. come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen Book of Longing is the first new poetry book by Leonard Cohen since 1984's Book of Mercy. First published in 2006 by McClelland and Stewart, Book of Longing contains 167 previously unpublished poems and drawings, mostly written at a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy in California, where Cohen lived from 1994 to 1999, and in India, which he visited regularly during the late 1990s. The book also incorporates a number of poems written after his 1978 book, Death of a Lady's Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen Book of Longing is the first new poetry book by Leonard Cohen since 1984's Book of Mercy. First published in 2006 by McClelland and Stewart, Book of Longing contains 167 previously unpublished poems and drawings, mostly written at a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy in California, where Cohen lived from 1994 to 1999, and in India, which he visited regularly during the late 1990s. The book also incorporates a number of poems written after his 1978 book, Death of a Lady's Man (not to be confused with his 1977 album, Death of a Ladies' Man). These presumably were left out of his 1984 Book of Mercy, which contained only psalm-like meditations. Book of Longing also collects some of the lyrics to songs from the albums Ten New Songs (2001) and Dear Heather (2004). Many of these poems were first published at The Blackening Pages of The Leonard Cohen Files website. *** Out of the thousands who are known, or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts trying to look like the real thing. Needless to say I am one of the fakes, and this is my story. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و نهم ماه ژوئن سال 2014 میلادی عنوان: کتاب اشتیاق؛ شاعر: لئونارد کوهن؛ مترجم: آزاده کامیار؛ تهران، چشمه، 1389؛ در 188 ص؛ شابک: 9789643629786؛ با عنوان: کتاب خواستن؛ تهران، حکمت کلمه، 1396، در 159 ص؛ شابک: 9786008291091؛ چاپ دوم 1397؛ موضوع: شعر شاعران بریتانیایی - سده 21 م عنوان: کتاب اشتیاق؛ شاعر: لئونارد کوهن؛ مترجم: احسان مهتدی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1390، در 188 ص؛ شابک: 9789643629786؛ چاپ دوم 1395؛ برخی شعرهای این کتاب با عنوان: در آغوشم کودکی، در روحم سوز سرمایی؛ با برگردان پژمان تهرانیان، تهران، نشر مشکی، 1394، در 48 ص، با شابک: 9789648765700؛ نیز منتشر شده است کتاب حاضر گزیده‌ ای است از کتاب اشتیاق (آخرین لئونارد کوهن) و همچنین جادویه‌ ای زمین، 1961 میلادی؛ گل‌هایی برای هیتلر، 1964 میلادی و قوای بردگان، 1972 میلادی در مجموع حدود صد شعر که خوانشگر را به سفری عاشقانه در گوشه‌ پسگوشه‌ های سرزمین غریب و گاه حزن‌ انگیز شعر کوهن خواهد برد. لئونارد کوهن را در ایران متاسفانه بیش‌تر به عنوان خواننده و نهایتاً ترانه‌ سرا می‌شناسند، حال آن‌که ایشان پیش از هرچیز حقیقتاً شاعر است و شعر برای او در حکم خاکستر زندگی است، وقتی جانانه زبانه بکشد. نقل از کتاب در آغوشم کودکی، «از آلبومِ : ده ترانه ی تازه » در زندگیِ پنهانی ام: چه تند گذر میکردی صبح که دیدمت کندن از گذشته را دیگر انگار نمیتوانم و چه دلتنگم برایت هیچ کس نیست در اطراف و ما کماکان عشق میورزیم به هم در زندگیِ پنهانی ام لبخند میزنم وقتی غمگینم خیانت میکنم و دروغ میگویم کاری را میکنم که مجبورم تا که بگذرانم اما میدانم درست کدام است و نادرست کدام و میمیرم برای حقیقت در زندگیِ پنهانی ام هُش دار، برادرم، هُش دار خواهرم، هُش دار گرفتم عاقبت دستوراتی را که باید پیاده خواهم پیمود روز را پیاده خواهم پیمود شب را گذر خواهم کرد از مرزها مرزهای زندگیِ پنهانی ام نگاهی انداختم روزنامه را گریه ات میاندازد هیچ کس باکش نیست که زنده اند یا مُرده انسان ها و کاسب میخواهد که فکر کنی یا سفید است یا سیاه شکرت خدایا که ساده نیست آن قدرها در زندگیِ پنهانی ام اینها میگزم لبم را خریدارم حرفی را که گفته اندم: از واپسین کنایه تا افاضاتِ پیرانه اما تنهایم همیشه و قلبم انگار تکّه ای یخ و چه سرمایی و ازدحامی در زندگیِ پنهانی ام برای همه ی هنرم همه ی مهارتم ...... هیچ وقت شبیه من نبود حتّی یک بار.؛ روز پانزدهم ماه سپتامبر 2003 میلادی»؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    D. Pow

    This book. This beautiful, beautiful book. Damn, I’m glad I picked this up. I’ve never read such a wonderful combination of sensual reverie, raw but fading lust and something damn close to Zen enlightenment. Cohen is a good, perhaps great poet, but he was also a practicing Zen monk when he wrote these poems as well as a long standing pilgrim in faith of the holiness of the body. For every poem extolling the benefits of Zazen and mindfulness you’ll read another of fruitful and unalloyed This book. This beautiful, beautiful book. Damn, I’m glad I picked this up. I’ve never read such a wonderful combination of sensual reverie, raw but fading lust and something damn close to Zen enlightenment. Cohen is a good, perhaps great poet, but he was also a practicing Zen monk when he wrote these poems as well as a long standing pilgrim in faith of the holiness of the body. For every poem extolling the benefits of Zazen and mindfulness you’ll read another of fruitful and unalloyed appreciation of the female form and the female mind. What makes this book so joyous is that these inspirations are in no way dichotomous but are just different strands of the spiritual sustenance Cohen finds, and delivers back through his poetry and music, in this wonderful, broken, fucked-up and beautiful beyond belief world. The wonderful volume is greatly abetted by Cohen’s warm, sensual, witty drawings and captions. This book joins my short shelf of books that entertain and inform but also show subtlety and with great depth of feeling and craft what it means to be human. To be human and stumbling towards meaning, purpose and sacred union with others while the world teeters on the cliff-edge of Apocalypse. RE-POST. OLD REVIEW

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    “My time is running out and still I have not sung The great song The true song”--Leonard Cohen Charles Bukowski talks with Leonard Cohen about his book of poetry, Book of Longing. Both wrote a lot of books of poetry and fiction. Buk: Some nice pomes in there, Lenny! Not bad! I like the pictures, too, especially the ones of all the women! Sweet! Lenny: I like women! So sue me. Buk: You won’t get any complaints from me! I like women quite a bit myself! My old pal Burroughs used to draw little things, “My time is running out and still I have not sung The great song The true song”--Leonard Cohen Charles Bukowski talks with Leonard Cohen about his book of poetry, Book of Longing. Both wrote a lot of books of poetry and fiction. Buk: Some nice pomes in there, Lenny! Not bad! I like the pictures, too, especially the ones of all the women! Sweet! Lenny: I like women! So sue me. Buk: You won’t get any complaints from me! I like women quite a bit myself! My old pal Burroughs used to draw little things, too, like that. Lenny: That he did! Buk: You also had in there a lot of pictures of your own mug, which ain’t getting any prettier, man. Lenny: You should talk, cover boy! Did you get the number of the truck that ran over that face? Buk: Haw! What is that yr drinking, music man? Lenny: Wine, red. Buk: Well, twist my arm, pass over that bottle, though I prefer beer, personally. Or even better bourbon. (The two toast, and drink, and pour another.) Buk: I like those poems. Straight, no chaser, not a lot of silly academic gobbledygook. The school poets don’t like ‘em, but I do. Lenny: They don’t like your stuff, either. Yours are like mine, I guess, a little. I try the candy approach, that sweet soft magic, like my music. The soul, man! Buk: You know what they say about candy, don’tcha? Liquor is quicker. {The two clink glasses in amused appreciation.} Buk: The soul? The Buddha? What in the hell is all this monk crap? And Christ this, Christ that. I don’t go in for that spiritual crap. Give me a boxing match or the track anytime. We agree on one thing, though: To be in the arms of a woman is pure heaven. [The two grin and clink glasses again, and Cohen pulls out a bottle of bourbon.} Buk: Now, you’re talkin’! I love Leonard Cohen's music. One of my favorites. It occurred to me these two might have some things in common, one of which is that the poetry establishment hates them as poets.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Favorite Poems The Book of Longing I can't make the hills The system is shot I'm living on pills For which I thank G-d I followed the course From chaos to art Desire the horse Depression the cart I sailed like a swan I sank like a rock But time is long gone Past my laughing stock My page was too white My ink was too thin The day wouldn't write What the night pencilled in My animal howls My angel's upset But I'm not allowed A trace of regret For someone will use What I couldn't be My heart will be hers Impersonally Favorite Poems The Book of Longing I can't make the hills The system is shot I'm living on pills For which I thank G-d I followed the course From chaos to art Desire the horse Depression the cart I sailed like a swan I sank like a rock But time is long gone Past my laughing stock My page was too white My ink was too thin The day wouldn't write What the night pencilled in My animal howls My angel's upset But I'm not allowed A trace of regret For someone will use What I couldn't be My heart will be hers Impersonally She'll step on the path She'll see what I mean My will cut in half And freedom between For less than a second Our lives will collide The endless suspended The door open wide Then she will be born To someone like you What no one has done She'll continue to do I know she is coming I know she will look And that is the longing And this is the book *** My Time My time is running out And still I have not sung the true song the great song I admit that I seem to have lost my courage a glance at the mirror a glimpse into my heart makes me want to shut up forever so why do you lean me here Lord of my life lean me at this table in the middle of the night wondering how to be beautiful

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    Sadly, this is the best poem in this book: THOUSANDS Out of the thousands who are known, or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts trying to look like the real thing. Needless to say I am one of the fakes, and this is my story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryk

    One of the best lessons I learned from this book is to just let go and write, not worrying if it's going to be "good" or not. Don't get me wrong- there is incredible poetry in here (along with often very astute drawings) but there is also a lot "I promised myself I would write something". Some of it is inspired, some not. Included are lyrics to a few of my favorite Cohen songs, like "Alexandra Leaving" and "Love Itself" which only makes the collection better. Most of the poems/scribblings concern One of the best lessons I learned from this book is to just let go and write, not worrying if it's going to be "good" or not. Don't get me wrong- there is incredible poetry in here (along with often very astute drawings) but there is also a lot "I promised myself I would write something". Some of it is inspired, some not. Included are lyrics to a few of my favorite Cohen songs, like "Alexandra Leaving" and "Love Itself" which only makes the collection better. Most of the poems/scribblings concern the time he spent in Monastery, so there is a big dose of "wrestling with God" in here, along with "wrestling with love, sex, things of the flesh". A fine, fine book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marc-Antoine

    Thanks again Mr Cohen for your words, you will live on forever through them. Rest In Peace, Leonard Cohen.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    DNF - thank Heaven!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    4/5 stars "The old are kind. The young are hot. Love may be blind. Desire is not." -Sorrows of the Elderly Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with Leonard Cohen's music, so it was only a matter of time before I delved into his poetry. His tone in the poetry was similar to his music, but also felt very different to just read rather than listen to. His poetry was witty, intellectual, sometimes psychedelic and thought-provoking. I tabbed so many of my pages, just collecting my favourite poems 4/5 stars "The old are kind. The young are hot. Love may be blind. Desire is not." -Sorrows of the Elderly Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with Leonard Cohen's music, so it was only a matter of time before I delved into his poetry. His tone in the poetry was similar to his music, but also felt very different to just read rather than listen to. His poetry was witty, intellectual, sometimes psychedelic and thought-provoking. I tabbed so many of my pages, just collecting my favourite poems from this collection, because there were so many. I do believe that knowing the context behind many of the poems was vital to understanding the content, which made some poems hard to decipher. It felt as if these poems weren't made for the public, but were rather the inner musings of this complex man's life. The poems were packed full of feelings of desire, longing, sensuality as well as the effects of aging. Altogether, I really enjoyed reading these poems and feel as if I've gained a different sort of understanding of this artist. I was truly touched at some of the poems, and have already re-read them multiple times. In stark contrast, some of his poems were brutally honest about his feelings on money, success and women; which gave this book a sense of honesty. The poems were not sugar-coated, much like with his lyrics. It was rather cynical, but some were also very Zen, reflecting his time as a Monk. As you can see, I'm having a difficult time explaining these poem as one entity, because they're all so different. It's also hard to bunch the themes of the collection into a few sentences, but I'm trying. The poems are also accompanied by drawings that range from sallow portraits of Leonard, to erotic sketches and even drawings of birds. In all, this was a seemingly private exploration of the world through the mind of an artist who sees things sometimes in humour and sometimes with cynicism. Of the entire collection my favourite poems were: You'd Sing Too, My Mother is not Dead, My Time (below) and Pardon Me. "My time is running out and still I have nog sung The true song The great song I admit That I seem To have lost my courage A glance at the mirror A glimpse into my heart Makes me want To shut up forever So why do you lean me here Lord of my life Lean me at this table In the middle of the night Wondering How to be beautiful" -My Time

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    "A record of Our little truth The cloth we wove The tools we used The games of luck Our soldiers played The stones we cut The songs we made Our law of peace Which understands A husband leads A wife commands"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Bibaud

    I really want to like Leonard Cohen. I'm not sure why, but I feel like he's a writer out of his time. I find myself drawn to his work but, disappointingly, have yet to read anything that I enjoy. I've even tried to listen to most of his music and it just doesn't work for me. I suppose it could be that I enjoy his persona more than his writing. 'Book of Longing' marks my last attempt to become a fan. There's probably 200+ pieces in total here and I would call it a stretch to say I even liked three I really want to like Leonard Cohen. I'm not sure why, but I feel like he's a writer out of his time. I find myself drawn to his work but, disappointingly, have yet to read anything that I enjoy. I've even tried to listen to most of his music and it just doesn't work for me. I suppose it could be that I enjoy his persona more than his writing. 'Book of Longing' marks my last attempt to become a fan. There's probably 200+ pieces in total here and I would call it a stretch to say I even liked three of them. Nearly every piece feels like a half-thought that he scribbled into a notebook in a cafe somewhere and never returned to make sense of them or flesh them out. Instead I got weirdly stunted imaginings, jokes that fell flat, and pieces that Cohen himself seemed to get bored of halfway through. There are a lot of themes explored but rarely do the poems themselves work hard enough to tie them to the sense of longing the title might suggest. Ultimately, it feels more like a writer's scrapbook, which is reinforced by the repeated drawings of his face, over and over and over with slightly different looks. Not only do these drawings add nothing to the collection, they take up probably a quarter of the book. The whole thing ends up feeling like supplemental material, like DVD extras, aimed more at Cohen superfans. Either way, if I'm dishing out over $20 for a book of poems, I should come away with at least a handful that burn themselves into my mind. I didn't get that. Too bad.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Leonard Cohen's poetry is... uneven. Some of the poems in this volume are wonderful little incantations. Others strike me as song lyrics-- and the unfortunate thing about song lyrics is that they tend to make horrible poetry, even if they're great lyrics, and a great lyricist Leonard Cohen undoubtedly is. And yet others are Zen-inspired pabulum that seemed fine in Allen Ginsberg's day, but now-- especially that I live in a Buddhist country, and have developed a repulsion towards Buddhism equal Leonard Cohen's poetry is... uneven. Some of the poems in this volume are wonderful little incantations. Others strike me as song lyrics-- and the unfortunate thing about song lyrics is that they tend to make horrible poetry, even if they're great lyrics, and a great lyricist Leonard Cohen undoubtedly is. And yet others are Zen-inspired pabulum that seemed fine in Allen Ginsberg's day, but now-- especially that I live in a Buddhist country, and have developed a repulsion towards Buddhism equal to my youthful repulsion towards Christianity-- strike me as a rather more exotic version of the motivational not-so-bon mots written in cursive on Precious Moments calendars at my Grandma's house in Kansas. My, that was snarky! But there are some good poems in here. And his drawings are neat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hansa

    I just recently started reading poetry, so I don't really know how to rate it. I did truly enjoy the whole book; the weirdness and the beauty of it, but then again I don't feel like I understood half of the book because I don't know much about Leonard Cohen and his life. Still, I'm going to give the book 4 stars, just because I really enjoyed reading it. Some of my favorite poems from the book include: "Better", "Fun", "I Wrote For Love", "Nightingale", "The Faith" and "Report To R.S.B."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Max McNabb

    Leonard Cohen was a Jew who became a Zen monk who wrote songs and poems about Jesus for fifty years. He was also the absolute embodiment of what it means to be a writer. Book of Longing is alive with Leonard’s nights and days in the monastery on Mt. Baldy, featuring 230 pages of poems and drawings, most of those pages blackened during his time as a monk. I learned to write poetry from reading and re-reading the poems in this book. I studied his work for meter and stress. I tried to figure out Leonard Cohen was a Jew who became a Zen monk who wrote songs and poems about Jesus for fifty years. He was also the absolute embodiment of what it means to be a writer. Book of Longing is alive with Leonard’s nights and days in the monastery on Mt. Baldy, featuring 230 pages of poems and drawings, most of those pages blackened during his time as a monk. I learned to write poetry from reading and re-reading the poems in this book. I studied his work for meter and stress. I tried to figure out how he could’ve written such lines that burn with luminous intensity. Frequently, I’ll find myself in a situation where a stray line or phrase will drift through my thoughts… After publication, a few of the poems here later became lyrics on some of Leonard’s final albums. Songs like the dark and stunning “Nevermind” had their beginning in Book of Longing. The artwork mostly falls into two categories: unflattering self-portraits and naked ladies. As someone who has drawn the occasional unflattering self-portrait and a naked lady or two, I enjoyed them very much. If you’re a Cotton Mather-type, however, you may not. Some of the other reviewers have been harsh about the inclusion of “weaker” poems. They don’t seem to understand that the volume functions, in part, as a psychological chronicle of Leonard’s time on Mt. Baldy. Which means that an utter masterpiece like “Alexandra Leaving” may appear alongside a more off-the-cuff, stream of consciousness journal entry like “Food Tastes Good.” To me, that’s one more reason to love this book—it’s a revelation of Leonard’s life and state of mind during those years. Book of Longing is my favorite volume of poetry and Leonard Cohen is my favorite poet. If you’re a fan of his music but haven’t given any of his poetry a try, this is the perfect place to start. —Sincerely, M. McNabb

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The Book of Longing is a compilation of poems and sketches from Leonard Cohen's 'earlier poet days' and written during his time in a Buddhist monastery. They are poems of reflection, observation and personal experience being a man. As always, Mr. Cohen's poetry is poignant, playful, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating, brooding and enlightening. These poems are less lyrical, and closer to abstract musings, lending us glimpses or snapshots into his younger male life and comparing or lamenting his The Book of Longing is a compilation of poems and sketches from Leonard Cohen's 'earlier poet days' and written during his time in a Buddhist monastery. They are poems of reflection, observation and personal experience being a man. As always, Mr. Cohen's poetry is poignant, playful, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating, brooding and enlightening. These poems are less lyrical, and closer to abstract musings, lending us glimpses or snapshots into his younger male life and comparing or lamenting his youth with his current, older self; longing for things spent, gone or lost. A few poems left me with a chuckle from the surprise ending: an intimate proclamation, or something sexual. Honestly, my first thought was "Leonard Cohen is a dirty old man!" but it is far from the truth -- the truth is that he is a man and, of course, his younger self still exists in him. We all encompass a body memory, and hold tight to a moment in time that altered or awoke us. Leonard's poems are a gift, a sharing of pieces of himself. We are fortunate to have him.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Huda AbuKhoti

    Raw and unedited, I felt like I was having a conversation with Leonard Cohen. wasn't particularly amazed by the poetry, but it is really smart. The moment I start losing interest he'll drop that witty or deep poem which will keep me going. I don't love it and I can't say I hate it. I think I will leave it at respecting his being. I could not kill The way you kill I could not hate I tried I failed No man can see The vast design Or who will be Last of his kind The story’s told With facts and lies Raw and unedited, I felt like I was having a conversation with Leonard Cohen. wasn't particularly amazed by the poetry, but it is really smart. The moment I start losing interest he'll drop that witty or deep poem which will keep me going. I don't love it and I can't say I hate it. I think I will leave it at respecting his being. I could not kill The way you kill I could not hate I tried I failed No man can see The vast design Or who will be Last of his kind The story’s told With facts and lies You own the world So never mind

  18. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    2.5/5 stars. Leonard Cohen was/is a very talented writer but I think his work is a bit too filled with how horny he is for me to read more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    I expected this to be just like his songs are, but it's even better. It has the same mix of self-irony, spirituality, and eroticism, and reads just like a journal. He even has a poem dedicated to his diary, and it feels like he's talking to the actual book you're reading. It's nice that the poems reflect some of the events of his life, too, especially his time experimenting with Buddhism and living in a monastery, trying to find a deeper spirituality, and falling just short of it. The regular I expected this to be just like his songs are, but it's even better. It has the same mix of self-irony, spirituality, and eroticism, and reads just like a journal. He even has a poem dedicated to his diary, and it feels like he's talking to the actual book you're reading. It's nice that the poems reflect some of the events of his life, too, especially his time experimenting with Buddhism and living in a monastery, trying to find a deeper spirituality, and falling just short of it. The regular desires and disillusions, those he was so apt at writing about, are responsible for preventing his full immersion into the zen lifestyle, and I think we're all lucky not to have 'lost' him to it. I also loved the little doodles and self-portraits scribbled in between poems, throughout the book. They're fragile and beautiful, sometimes a bit sarcastic too, and most of the time playful. I also like how the collection also includes a little introduction he wrote for Chinese readers for one of his previous books, Beautiful Losers. That intro is so beautiful that it definitely deserved to be counted as a poem in itself, so including it makes total sense. Not that the volume is all poetry (and drawings), mind you. Lyrical prose excerpts are also a thing. You have to just read for yourself, one beautiful page at a time. The pervading theme throughout the entire collection is, of course, longing, the feeling Cohen is so adept at projecting. It's not all erotic longing, either, but also the more elusive varieties of spiritual longing, longing after a previous version of yourself that's been irreversibly lost, and so on. Here are some of my favorite bits, and which are generally less well-known. (I don't need to quote the beautiful lyrics to A Thousand Kisses Deep, for example, which are included in this collection - in both versions). “I followed the course From chaos to art Desire the horse Depression the cart” ----------------------- HOW COULD I HAVE DOUBTED I stopped looking for you I stopped waiting for you I stopped dying for you and I started dying for myself I aged rapidly I became fat in the face and soft in the gut and I forgot that I’d ever loved you I was old I had no focus, no mission I wandered around eating and buying bigger and bigger clothes and I forgot why I hated every long moment that was mine to fill Why did you come back to me tonight I can’t even get off this chair Tears run down my cheeks I am in love again I can live like this ------------------------------ “I was one of the things that was put into Jana. Once you have been put in, you have been put in forever. That is love. Sometimes it is greater than Death, sometimes smaller, sometimes the same size.” ------------------------------- SPLIT What can I do with this love of mine with this hairy knob with this poison wine Who shall I take to the edge of despair with my knee on her heart and my lips in her hair So I’ll take all my love and I’ll split it in two and there’s one part for me and there’s one part for you And we’ll drink the wine and we’ll hide the staff and the lover will groan and the other will laugh And I’ll go to your bed and I’ll lie by your side and I’ll bury the bones and I’ll marry the bride And you’ll do the same when you come to my room You’ll dig in my dirt and you’ll bury the groom And I swear by this love which is living and dead that we will be separate and we will be wed ------------------------ LOOKING AWAY you would look at me and it never occurred to me that you might be choosing the man of your life you would look at me over the bottles and the corpses and I thought you must be playing with me you must think I’m crazy enough to step behind your eyes into the open elevator shaft so I looked away and I waited until you became a palm tree or a crow or the vast grey ocean of wind or the vast grey ocean of mind now look at me married to everyone but you ------------------------ “I gave her something pretty And I waited ’til she laughed I wasn’t born a gypsy To make a woman sad” ------------------------- BECAUSE OF A FEW SONGS Because of a few songs wherein I spoke of their mystery, women have been exceptionally kind to my old age. They make a secret place in their busy lives and they take me there. They become naked in their different ways and they say, “Look at me, Leonard look at me one last time.” Then they bend over the bed and cover me up like a baby that is shivering. ------------------------ “I want to love you now I want to love you then I want to love you never And then begin again All the tassels of my belt Go flying in the sky When you bend down to laugh at me From your place on high I want to be the fool The one you send away After you have used him up Every second day I want to be the rose You beckon with a yawn Limping on a thorny crutch Across the burning lawn See what you have done to me As if you give a shit I used to live behind a line But now I’m over it I won’t come back to say goodbye I’ll never leave your side Until I am the other man And you are someone’s bride Sit down on my memory When you are in pain When you are in pleasure Sit down on it again” .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    Leonard, the horny old Jewish priest, returns from the summit of Mount Baldy with his ten of songs. Published 2006, this collection of poems and songs with many pencil sketches to accompany the pages, covers mainly, his work over the last three decades. Leonard Cohen is a poet, first and foremost. The book contains many self portrait drawings, as though the man is totally immersed in the search for soul. The poems radiate his wit and humour that is contained in much of L.C.'s works, but with Leonard, the horny old Jewish priest, returns from the summit of Mount Baldy with his ten of songs. Published 2006, this collection of poems and songs with many pencil sketches to accompany the pages, covers mainly, his work over the last three decades. Leonard Cohen is a poet, first and foremost. The book contains many self portrait drawings, as though the man is totally immersed in the search for soul. The poems radiate his wit and humour that is contained in much of L.C.'s works, but with profound depth just waiting on the next line.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Udai

    I really have mixed feelings about this.... when I started the book the first poem was so strong, so moving that every thing around me illuminated but then through out the book there were some nice poems not so nice poems and some of them I just didn't understand I really wanted to like Leonard Cohen more knowing that he had some influence on Kurt Cobain maybe poetry isn't for me or maybe I didn't find the right poet yet.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Víctor Bermúdez

    THOUSANDS Out of the thousands who are known, or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts trying to look like the real thing. Needless to say I am one of the fakes, and this is my story.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    I've known his music for a hundred years, and some poetry, but was inspired to explore more after hearing a Fresh Air interview with him recently that I thought was terrific.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shameema

    Only so far flagrant as to make one curious and often mystical. I enjoyed a few of these poems but all sins can be forgiven because it contains a mesmerizing meditation on the creative process and the artist. It's called Something from the early seventies. Leonard Cohen reminisces about his relationship with Nico in it, among other things. At one point he writes,"... Nothing anyone has ever said to me about the black photograph has meant fig to me, except Nico. She could read them. She knew what Only so far flagrant as to make one curious and often mystical. I enjoyed a few of these poems but all sins can be forgiven because it contains a mesmerizing meditation on the creative process and the artist. It's called Something from the early seventies. Leonard Cohen reminisces about his relationship with Nico in it, among other things. At one point he writes,"... Nothing anyone has ever said to me about the black photograph has meant fig to me, except Nico. She could read them. She knew what I was doing. Nico perceived me immediately through all my pathetic bullshit,or as some would, should call it. My work among other things is a monument to Nico's eyes. That there was such a pair in my own time and that I met them, forehead to forehead;that the black photograph sang to other irises, and yes retinas, corneas and optic nerves, all the way down the foul leather bag to Nico's restless heart, another human heart. that this actually happened constitutes the sole assault on my loneliness that the eternal has ever made, and it was her." I read this ten times.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I guess I don't get it. The drawings look like they were drawn in Microsoft Paint. The poems that spread over more than one page has a small Microsoft Word pointer finger leading the reader to the next page. The poems seem lazy and most are about not worrying about quality or about getting erections. Songs of Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite albums, and I enjoy most of his music. This lacks his usual complex imagery and multiple meanings. I wasn't able to experience anything more than a I guess I don't get it. The drawings look like they were drawn in Microsoft Paint. The poems that spread over more than one page has a small Microsoft Word pointer finger leading the reader to the next page. The poems seem lazy and most are about not worrying about quality or about getting erections. Songs of Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite albums, and I enjoy most of his music. This lacks his usual complex imagery and multiple meanings. I wasn't able to experience anything more than a haunting image of an old dude dressed as a monk getting an erection. I'll probably revisit this again to see how mistaken I am.

  26. 5 out of 5

    mathilda_craft

    This has got to be a book I HAVE to own. Because poetry is so sweet and deep (not to say this particular author is; just in general) that you need to take time and care with it in order to absorb in it's right content. Poetry books are not to be read in one sitting. They are to be lapped at like a dog licking a puddle. Like a child sucking a lollipop. It's not as enjoyable, otherwise. I like what I've read so far. He's much more simple in his wording that most poets I know of, but there is a lot This has got to be a book I HAVE to own. Because poetry is so sweet and deep (not to say this particular author is; just in general) that you need to take time and care with it in order to absorb in it's right content. Poetry books are not to be read in one sitting. They are to be lapped at like a dog licking a puddle. Like a child sucking a lollipop. It's not as enjoyable, otherwise. I like what I've read so far. He's much more simple in his wording that most poets I know of, but there is a lot of emotion in them. A lot of depth to them. A longing... which is perfect for the title. He's also more frank... but I kinda like that with him. It seems to fit.

  27. 5 out of 5

    adewils

    Great book for dipping in and out of if you like to do that. Some poems are a few lines and some a few pages. Humour, irony, pathos, and sadness are all brushes of the old master in these poems. Some pedants may argue that some are not actually poems, more like doggerel but then they would, wouldn't they? The pages are dotted with Mr Cohen's little sketches, triptychs and icons all of which break up the text and add 'comments' to the poems. Highly recommended to fans.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Farzan

    لئونارد کوهن بزرگ ...در وصف ایشان این شعر کتاب بس است: Out of the thousands who are known, or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts trying to look like the real thing. Needless to say I am one of the fakes, and this is my story. پ.ن:توصیه میکنم کتاب را به زبان اصلی بخوانید

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    I'm not a huge fan of poetry, and I find most of it pretty alienating and annoying, but Cohen has such a lovely tone, and doesn't seek to be "clever" by being obtuse. Which means his poetry actually says something to me (and makes sense: I can understand what he's saying, or relate to it, or interpret it), which makes it something worth treasuring :) Also, I love his drawings and sketches!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Near the end of Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing he includes a letter to his Chinese readers: Dear Reader, Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honour, and a surprise, to have the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful or amusing. . . . This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May I Near the end of Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing he includes a letter to his Chinese readers: Dear Reader, Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honour, and a surprise, to have the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful or amusing. . . . This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May I suggest that you skip over the parts you don’t like? Dip into it here and there. Perhaps there will be a passage, or even a page, that resonates with your curiosity. After a while, if you are sufficiently bored or unemployed, you may want to read it from cover to cover. In any case, I thank you for your interest in this odd collection of jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious kitsch and muffled prayer, an interest which indicates, to my thinking, a rather reckless, though very touching, generosity on your part. . . . This letter comes from the Chinese edition of his 1966 novel Beautiful Losers, which was published in 2000. In that text, this letter was printed as the Foreword. Its placement near the end of this Cohen book is ironic – the message very well one that could come in the foreword of this collection of poetry and drawings – especially since (in my opinion) some of the best poems come after this note. The inclusion of this excerpt on page 196 (of 229) I feel is more characteristically Leonard Cohen than perhaps anything else in the book –and there are some very confessional pieces – in that it captures his humility and his wry sense of humor all at once, while also giving a brief overview of his art on the whole: jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious kitsch and muffled prayer. And it seems something that Laurence Sterne might very well have done in his masterpiece, Tristram Shandy. This collection of poetry, drawings and prose poems is interesting perhaps more to the Leonard Cohen fan than to the typical reader of poetry. At times I wondered to myself, if I was not such a huge fan of the music (I own every single Leonard Cohen studio album – and most of the live recordings, admiring the impressive melodies as much as the lyrics which are always layered in meaning) if I would have rated this book three stars instead of four, and perhaps I am being even more generous now that the singer/poet has died than I would have been had I read this only a couple of months ago (when I purchased it). Regardless, it cannot be denied that there are some fine pieces in this collection and at his best (as in his music), Cohen successfully weds the sacred and the profane, shining light in the darkness and all the while living up to his reputation as the “godfather or gloom,” but almost always in a playful way. If taken too seriously the book, like Beautiful Losers, like so many of Cohen’s songs, may be considered “difficult,” but Cohen is never so serious himself. While some of these poems were written at earlier points of his life, most were composed during his five-year residency at a Zen monastery in Mount Baldy (in Southern California) and they express both a reverence for Zen philosophy and an ironic distancing from it (such as the poem in which the Zen disciple wakes early in the morning and places on layer upon layer of holy garb over his “enormous hard-on”), Cohen the poet in the material world ever frustrated with his inability to master the spiritual, except when he is not. While there are some wonderful pieces here, there is also a good deal of mire that we must trudge through in order to get to the places of awe-inspiring beauty. But so it is with life, and only by pushing on through the profane and the everyday do we truly appreciate the sacred and even the petite beauties that emerge here and there. Cohen was a perfectionist in his music and in a recent interview, just before his death, it was revealed that it took him about 5 years to compose his most popular and recognizable song, “Hallelujah,” compared with the 15 minutes it allegedly took Bob Dylan to write the song “I and I” (a song that Cohen greatly admired). It is not that Cohen was not as prolific as Dylan, but he was certainly more modest and less willing to release a work that he did not consider ‘complete.’ This book gives admirers of Cohen a glimpse of the genius at work. It may not contain his most profound works, but neither does Tarantula represent the best of Dylan. Yet it is honest, perhaps more than anywhere else when Cohen is reflecting on his desire for various women ("The old are kind./The young are not./Love may be blind./Desire is not"; "I never liked the way you loved/So devious, so dated/But still I fasted like a monk/And prayed to see you naked") and his own spiritual (and physical) shortcomings. Some of the poems in this work would be more fully realized when set to melody on albums like Dear Heather and Ten New Songs -- some of the best including “Alexandra Leaving” and “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” Some are beautiful on their own, in their use of language ("pleasant harmonies in the cavities of your distress"; "Also Dylan Thomas sailed out from that lobby . . . to assume his rightful overstuffed easy chair in the crowded pantheon of flabby heroism"; "The lights went out behind us/The fireflies undressed"; "Then I went to the Mosque/of Memory/to express my gratitude") and their expressions of sorrow, spirituality and humor. And there are others that undoubtedly would perhaps be best skipped over by the reader. But these comparative blemishes may just represent the most private aspects of the poet’s life and art and they provide the background for those objects on which we wish to focus our attention, giving shape to the whole and allowing the reader to better appreciate those pieces or perhaps just passages of magic and grace. “Fortunately there is no Space for Regret in The Poverty of these Reflections.”

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