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Gift -- Leonard Cohen

Guest poem submitted by Reed C. Bowman:
(Poem #624) Gift
    You tell me that silence
 is nearer to peace than poems
 but if for my gift
 I brought you silence
 (for I know silence)
 you would say
    "This is not silence
 this is another poem"
 and you would hand it back to me.
-- Leonard Cohen
One technical note: Where this appeared in a poetry book (_Sound and Sense_,
6th ed., by Laurence Perrine) the two lines I have placed in quotes were
unquoted but italic. Since that can't be done by many people's e-mail
systems, I used this punctuation. It is presumably a song lyric (it being
Leonard Cohen), so the typographic details are less important than with
other poems.

I don't know what I can say about this one. There's commentary on Leonard
Cohen elsewhere on the Minstrels archive. I assume it's actually a song
lyric, but I don't know the song. I just like it for its nice zen quality,
which makes you think more about the structure of poems, or the meaning of
"poem." Perhaps the best way to perform this as a song would be to record
silence (a la John Cage's 4'33") but include the lyrics on the album jacket
or CD booklet.

But apart from the self-reference (which I always like) the content of the
poem sets before us and yet gently twists a moment of potential stress
between the poet and the one for whom he writes. He can't get anything
right: the one for whom he writes prefers silence, yet recognizes any gift
he brings, even a poem's "negative space," as poetry in itself. Compliment
to the poet, sure, but makes it clear nonetheless that no gift from him is
acceptable... Respect is not, likely, all he wants from his special audience
and dedicatee. Or that's one way to take it.



Other Cohen poems:
poem #116
poem #339
poem #482

31 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Jasa Penerjemah Tersumpah | Jasa Penerjemah | Penerjemah Resmi said...

in this case, the enchantment of the night. (This takes a page
from Jacques Derrida's postmodernist playbook.) And yet we keep trying,
as the poem so wonderfully points out.

Busana Muslim said...

in this case, the enchantment of the night. (This takes a page
from Jacques Derrida's postmodernist playbook.) And yet we keep trying,
as the poem so wonderfully points out.

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I've been wondering about the silence, as a special moment... and I think we can't ignore it because is a stylistic element of poetic diction and it's all about interpretations, everything is related and you know that. In this case, the poem show us the same meaning but with different words and it is an important way to communicate that message. 2j3j

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