Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen has passed from the earth. The great musician who was also part poet and part mystic. Did you know that he was a Buddhist monk?

In my own life, I am often reminded that I am a slow writer–not always, but often. I get the words on the page, and then I keep revising them. Always when the writing is best, the process seems to take longer. The thoughts become chiseled: more profound. The sentences get simpler over time, assume a cadence, a structure, a depth that evolves.
Well, Leonard Cohen was a decade writing the song Anthem.
Some things happen quickly and seem be just perfect the first time, but some things just can’t be rushed. I already knew that, but it was still a psychic gift to learn that about Cohen: nothing about life is meant to be rushed–perhaps especially one’s thoughts. Whatever else is art is, it’s about merging the mind with the soul; whether visual art, music, or poetry (all well-written literature seems to have a certain poetry about it).
Cohen’s words are best heard with their musical accompaniment, but they also stand alone:
From Anthem: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
From Suzanne: “. . . look among the garbage and the flowers.”
From Hallelujah: “There’s a blaze of light In every word. It doesn’t matter which you heard. The holy or the broken Hallelujah”
Leonard Cohen’s words and his songs will be heard for a very long time, and his light will continue to seep through the cracks.
M L S Baisch

How To Be A Poet

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)


(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill – more of each

than you have – inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

                                                  – Wendell Berry

There is power in silence. It’s not easy to learn to be still, but once done, the power of silence and stillness brings about a self-refinement that turns the world inside-out. Inside-out is, of course, that place where artists live. But ordinary people are also welcome.

M L S Baisch