Leonard Cohen, again

In high school, I listened to Judy Collins sing Suzanne.  My friend and I sang it in harmony, sitting in the stair well of the college library.  The acoustics were great–never mind that people were actually trying to study on the other side of the wall.

Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, Sisters of Mercy, Bird on a Wire–

I listened and I loved the words. I’m sure I didn’t delve deeply into meaning.

Not long ago, and many years later, someone posted Hallelujah on Facebook.  Sung by a sweet boy and his classmates at P.S. 22 in Manhattan.

For days, I could not get the song out of my head.

Cohen came back to me last week, in the lines from a poem I’ve remembered for forty years.  There is so much truth here, so spare and fine.

A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won’t give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you’ve written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don’t let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

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