Culture Fridays: Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing

As a Canadian, female, former English major, I am unsurprisingly a big fan of Leonard Cohen’s. I meant to buy his Book of Longing when it came out back in 2006, but somehow never got around to it. On my weekly evening out recently, while Derek looked after Sam, I spent over an hour browsing at the outstanding local indie bookstore, Words Worth Books, and walked out with an armload of poetry and short stories, which I’ll be reviewing in this space over time. (I’ll also be reviewing music, TV, and movies here, whatever catches my fancy.) I finished the Book of Longing yesterday, and wow is it excellent — quite possibly my favourite Cohen work so far. The illustrations throughout add to its many charms. I struggled with choosing just one poem to post here as an excerpt for your enjoyment… Decided this one was appropriate for the medium. (Tongue firmly in cheek!)

Dear Diary

You are greater than the Bible
And the Conference of the Birds
And the Upanishads
All put together

You are more severe
Than the Scriptures
And Hammurabi’s Code
More dangerous than Luther’s paper
Nailed to the Cathedral door

You are sweeter
Than the Song of Songs
Mightier by far
Than the Epic of Gilgamesh
And braver
Than the Sagas of Iceland

I bow my head in gratitude
To the ones who give their lives
To keep the secret
The daily secret
Under lock and key

Dear Diary
I mean no disrespect
But you are more sublime
Than any Sacred Text

Sometimes just a list
Of my events
Is holier than the Bill of Rights
And more intense


About Lisa

My name is Lisa, and I used to have a mostly knitting blog called 42 Main Street, at I became a mom in January 2010, and suddenly I wasn't knitting very much any more. Then Blogger stopped supporting FTP and I couldn't keep blogging at that address any more. Although I originally planned to start a new 42 Main Street on WordPress, somehow that identity didn't really fit any more, so I decided it was "Time to Reboot," and that's why you'll find me here now:
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