Celebrating Cohen: Poem and Illustration from Neha Masroor and Reflections by Somudranil Sarkar

Poem on the format of Cohen’s ‘Love Calls you by Your Name’

The sky in all its glory

With its seven floors of chains,

Could not hold you down

When your path led you to the halls of fame

But here, right here,

Between the echo and the wail

Between the ocean and your empty pail

Between her eyes and their veil

Once again, once again

Love calls you by your name

Your laughter wreaked havoc upon

The tiny world that you set out to subjugate

The battles were all won beforehand

But you found the limit of what chaos could create

But here, right here

Between the hammer and the coffin’s nail

Between the storm and the fast disappearing trail

Between the thunder and the song of the nightingale

Once again, once again,

Love calls you by your name

She sat before you talking

But she could not defend her claims

What made you sit and listen?

Her words? Or their inability to maim?

But here, right here

Between the forest and the arms of this dame

Between the snake and its eternal shame

Between the train-tracks and the train

Once again, once again,

Love calls you by your name

I stand corrected every Friday

When the week finds me the very same

I move through time completely undetected

With no memories but many picture-frames

And here, right here,

Between infinity and the number eight

Between my indifference and your love masked as hate

Between the truth and its dense distillate

Once again, once again

Love calls you by your name.

What could we possibly talk about?

Once we found each other at the stake

Were you with me because I was adventurous?

Was it folly? Was it a mistake?

Oh here, right here,

Between us two and the brave,

Between the traitor and his unmarked grave,

Between the master and his quiet slave,

Once again, once again,

Love calls you by your name.

I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything




Neha Masroor is an engineering student in Pakistan. She loves to read and write. She is humbly indebted to Mr. Leonard Cohen who helped her find her voice in much the same way as Lorca helped him find his own.






The counter culture of the 60s ousting of the Vietnam War propelled a cult and socio-cultural revolution in the United States of America and elsewhere. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the rising unemployment, political repression and migration the revolution stood in the way of

the typical bourgeoisie milieu of the utilitarian ethos. Leonard Cohen, one of the le coureur de tête (i.e. leader) of his contemporaries wanted to entail on the itinerary of spiritual alley backed by the discordance of the luxurious ethos. He was what his family called him a by-product of Jeux d’esprit. Once he spoke things that have instilled hope, as a resultant situation of his heart being tamed, not belittled.

May the spirit of this song, may it rise up pure and free

May it be a shield for you a shield against the enemy

On the other hand, he fell in between the disillusionment that’d been formulated by Castro’s revolution in Cuba. He wrote,

Leave it all and like a man,

Come back to nothing special,

Such as waiting rooms and ticket lines,

Silver bullet suicides,

And messianic ocean tides,

And racial roller-coaster rides

And other forms of boredom advertised as poetry.

Impelled by the rapid vivacity his visit to ordinariness, he ignited an informal rendezvous with the sense of his mystified self. He saw the clashes between the rich and the poor, between man and woman, between those who exist and those who do not – between the odd and the even.

Why Cohen scrounged love when there was a war waging outside?

He was a slave to love.

A singer must die for the lie in his voice is the accusation. Only acceptance—polite, humble and full – will do.

And I thank you, I thank you for doing your duty

You keepers of truth, you guardians of beauty

Your vision is right, my vision is wrong

I’m sorry for smudging the air with my song

He admits beyond the acceptance (within which the veiled irony lurks: they are doing their ‘duty’; them keeping ‘the truth’; their observance of the ‘vision’) that he took refuge in the love of a woman, and in that of a woman ‘I would like to forgive.’ But is it real, this accusation? Was the vision true? Is it not simply fear about them – the fear of man that operates with a snare – that causes him to confess? Their actions condemn them; as does their unwanted use of violence. The song breaks into a social protest. He betrayed them, not a higher power; their vision not his own. Hence the heavy sarcasm:

In an interview in `1988 in Melody Maker Kris Kirk stated that Leonard Cohen was the first man in popular music to evince a genuinely feminised or perhaps androgynous mentality. From this statement what can commonly be understood is in Jungian terms is the anima – an inherited collective image of the woman is usually projected onto someone’s mother or wife and if of a creative disposition, one’s art.

Yes, and long live the state by whoever it’s made

Sir, I didn’t see anything, I was just getting home late


Leonard was listed as one of President Nixon’s enemies in his Nixon Enemies list that passed in the year 1971. This eventually paved the way for the cult proforma amidst the disarrayed mayhem and the tumultuous suppression of psyche.

Probably, for me the words will sing to the graves who have been wronged, unloved, unwanted. Leaving the graveyard, as soon as I stroll through the blind alleys I can hear Cohen whispering, “And a partner in the yard/In the prison of the gifted,” amidst the monotony of the humdrum passive life. When I stand by the Ganges I feel lovers can weave the morning Azaan with the Bhatiyali tune and spend the rest of their lives, amidst the mayhem. When you get trampled down by the protests, a myriad of fireflies clings to your heart. O My Field Commander, my Prophet — You have given me memories. Memories of the sooty buildings, dead trees, wet by lanes, mangy dogs, fly-infested beef shops, and the marijuana seller. You have shown me a beautiful window, like a rose on its ladder of thorns. My Cohen is like a candle flame swaying in the currents of the air.


Somudranil Sarkar is an editor and a translator based in Kolkata. A postgraduate in English language and literature. He tends to meddle in between the esoteric and the unexplored itinerary. Apart from writing, he has been trained in theatre and has been a practitioner himself for over 18 years.

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