Book of Mercy
and you alone who refines the heart, you alone who instructs mortals, who answers the trembling before you with wisdom. Blessed is the name of the one who keeps faith with those who sleep in the dust, who has saved me again and again. To you is the day, and the conscious night, to you alone the only consecration. Bind me, intimate, bind me to your wakefulness.
A LL MY LIFE IS BROKEN unto you, and all my glory soiled unto you. Do not let the spark of my soul go out in the even sadness. Let me raise the brokenness to you, to the world where the breaking is for love. Do not let the words be mine, but change them into truth. With these lips instruct my heart, and let fall into the world what is broken in the world. Lift me up to the wrestling of faith. Do not leave me where the sparks go out, and the jokes are told in the dark, and new things are called forth and appraised in the scale of the terror. Face me to the rays of love, O source of light, or face me to the majesty of your darkness, but not here, do not leave me here, where death is forgotten, and the new thing grins.
I LOST MY WAY, I FORGOT to call on your name. The raw heart beat against the world, and the tears were for my lost victory. But you are here. You have always been here. The world is all forgetting, and the heart is a rage of directions, but your name unifies the heart, and the world is lifted into its place. Blessed is the one who waits in the traveller’s heart for his turning.
L EONARD C OHEN was born in Montreal in 1934. His artistic career began in 1956 with the publication of
Let Us Compare Mythologies.
Since then, he has published twelve books, including two novels,
The Favourite Game
(1966), and, most recently,
Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs
Book of Longing
(2006). He has made eighteen albums, the latest being
Live in London
(2009). Numerous tribute albums, in many languages, have celebrated his songs. His work is known and loved throughout the world.
Copyright © 1984 by Leonard Cohen
All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or – otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Cohen, Leonard, 1934–
Book of mercy / Leonard Cohen.
PS 8505. O 22 B 6 2010 C 811’.54 C 2009-905208-3
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009935654
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program.
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