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Tag Archives: Leonard Cohen

Watch “Damien Rice – Hallelujah” on YouTube

Source: Watch “Damien Rice – Hallelujah” on YouTube

When I taught, I often played music when I arrived at school and left it on until we were ready to begin the day. It gave students insight into me as a person. Hallelujah is one of my favourite songs and I shared it with them in various forms.

Today, when George posted this version, I thought of the two versions I shared with my students. Granted, I have not heard a version I do not like. It may be it is because I have been a Leonard Cohen fan since the late 1960’s and he wrote the song.

Here is his version:

Kathy and I have seen k.d. lang in concert several times and her version, which she performs about half-way through the set, is spine tingling.

I first saw k.d. many years ago when she performed as part of The Reclines, which performed “punk country” and was a Patsy Cline tribute band. When I hear her sing Crying with Roy Orbison I cannot distinguish their voices.

In the introduction to the song, which she sang at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the announcer referred to it as “a song of peace.” This is her version, which is the one many people think of when they hear the song.

 

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Even in Temples

Deng Ming-Dao writes how silence has sound. When I meditate, the sounds I hear strike me. Leonard Cohen’s quote echos that with “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Our senses cannot be totally shut off. We feel, hear, see, smell, taste, etc. even when we do not realize it. It is in the moments of quiet or darkness that we see sounds and light are always there. When we are mindful and attentive to our activities and senses, what we did not sense is there. It is in the mindful and meditative moments that the world–its allness–are there for us to soak in.

I told my students that much of the meaning to be found in poetry came in the pauses and silences between words, lines, and stanzas. Poetry touches our souls in those silences. When we pause and soak in the poetry, including the silences it shares with us, the meaning comes to life, only to change the next time we read the lines. In this sense, poetry, like life, is about living its meaning, sensing that is fleeting, incomplete, and fluid.

Even in temples
Where residents vow never to talk,
And silence is worshiped,
There is sound.
There are songs.
There is poetry.

Memories incarnated,
Lifetimes pulled through a thousand minds,
Cadences bearing time,
Rhymes connecting life,
Stanzas stacked like the generations.

Those who follow Tao write poetry.
Read poetry.
Live poetry.
And enter Tao through its lines.

At the New Year

As Kenneth Patchen wrote, “there are other bells we could ring” provides choice in living mindfully and sensitively in the world.

In the shape of this night, in the still fall
        of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
        and children
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
        and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
        of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
        where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
        out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
        mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
        where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
        of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
        has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
        turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father
Other bells that we would ring.
When we explore the cracks in everything, we find the light and ring the bells we can and could.

“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”—Leonard Cohen

Heaven

We think the sound ends when no we longer hear it. All senses leave traces and vibrations remembered at some later moment. We hear sounds recalling them in stories about that moment. It is not as clearly recalled, but it does remain equally vivid as we recall the moment when the sprinkler made its sounds and the water touched us as we ran through the water on a hot summer day years ago. It is the moment relived. The trailing feather of mist touches us. We feel the coolness touching overheated bodies that long ago day.

David Baker called this human ability, and it is a human ability, heaven. We hear the music after it ends. It reminded me of the Leonard Cohen line about dancing to the end of love. It is not the end of love, but a part of love we feel in that dance called life. Although the line is melancholic, the love is felt in daily activities bringing joy and sadness. It is in sharing of the joy and sadness we find love and heaven.

All afternoon the sprinkler ticks and sprays,

ticks and sprays in lazy rounds, trailing

a feather of mist. When I turn it off,

the cicadas keep up their own dry rain,

passing on high from limb to limb.

I don’t know what has shocked me more,

that you are gone, that I am still here,

that there is music after the end.

Ask Me

Last night, I read, more like re-read, the first two chapters of Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. I find it so interesting to read something for a second, third, or fourth time. I always discover something new in the process. It might only be a word, a sentence, a turn of phrase, but it provides new insight. As I read last night, it was no different. Parker included this poem by William Stafford. I had to read several times, because the words are not in perfect order, but life is not either.

Parker Palmer is on Facebook and I follow him. Today, he posted a July 4th tribute with Leonard Cohen performing Democracy on Youtube. The link is Parker Palmer for those interested.

I am in Spokane and somewhat settled in. As I struggle a bit with making sense of my dissertation topic, this poem makes perfect sense. It is precise and piercing in its questions and somewhat disquieting. In those moments of perturbation, life makes more sense and I learn.

Sometimes when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life. Others

have come in their slow way into

my thought, and some have tried to help

or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say

You and I can turn and look

at the silent river and wait. We know

is there, hidden; and there

are comings and goings from miles away

that hold the stillness exactly before us.

What the river says, that is what I say.

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