Austin City Limits, 1988
Or endless night? Which do you hear?
I think it matters -- a plea for sore-needed help (which is how Cohen wrote it) or a fatalistic resignation (which is how it is misquoted with a disheartening regularity). Which is your own last resort in the animating narrative behind all your choices?
meanwhile . . .
#23 from the Book of Mercy, by Leonard Cohen
MY SISTER AND I BEING ESTRANGED, I parked my trailer at the furthest limit of her fields, the corner that is left, by law, to the poor. Her hundreds of cherry trees were blossoming, and on the road to the great stone house that they lined, a lacework of petals. It was a Saturday. I reclined against a little hill, a shoot of wheat between my teeth, looked at the blue sky, a bird, three threads of luminous cloud, and my heart would not rejoice. I entered the hour of self-accusation. A strange sound trembled in the air. It was caused by the north wind on the electric lines, a sustained chord of surprising harmonies, power and duration, greatly pleasing, a singing of breath and steel, a huge string instrument of masts and fields, complex tensions. Suddenly the judgement was clear. Let your sister, with her towers and gardens, praise the incomparable handiwork of the Lord, but you are pledged to the breath of the Name. Each of you in your proper place. The cherry trees are hers, the grapes and the olives, the thick-walled house; and to you, the unimaginable charities of accident in the Corner of the Poor.