The Heart Be Still As Loving

Leonard Cohen Relaxes
Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016)

So We’ll Go No More A Roving

by Lord Byron

So, we’ll go no more a roving
       ..So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
.       .And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
.      .And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
     ..And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
.    .And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
    ..By the light of the moon.

 

 


I attended The Tallest Man on Earth concert at the Palace Theater in St. Paul last night.  It was an amazing performance by a single artist on stage. Kristian Matsson is a whirl-wind of energy and musicality, his guitar playing and mastery of reverb make it sound like there must be multiple guitarists performing when only his nimble fingers are producing that incredible music.

Listening last night in raptor to one song, I wondered if Matsson would describe himself as a song-writer first, guitarist second and poet third or guitarist-first, poet second and song-writer third or you get the point, there are many combinations, what would be his list? The real question is whether any of it can be separated from the other in a linear fashion during the artistic process or does each talent inform the other in ways that alter and shape it? Do a song writer fit lyrics to a tune or does the tune inform the lyrics or does words become the tune or all of the above?

Some poems are so musical by the very selection of the words that it is inevitable they will be set to music.  There are many different versions over the years of Byron’s So We’ll Go No More A Roving that have been recorded and probably a myriad of versions that never were. It is a love song that is meant to be sung. I am rather fond of Cohen’s version. Cohen always described himself as poet first and singer/song writer second.  His love of poetry informs his lyrics and sets them apart even as his voice faded a bit as he aged, his lyrics were still lyrical, and by surrounding himself with a strong cast of musicians, Cohen’s music and concerts remained vibrant right up until his death.

Who is your favorite singer/song-writer/poet?    What’s your favorite song of theirs?


You Have No Form

by Leonard Cohen

You have no form, you move among, yet do
not move, the relics of exhausted thought
of which you are not made, but which give world to
you, you are of nothing made, nothing wrought.
There you long for one who is not me, O
queen of no subject, newer than the morning,
more antique than first seed dropped below
the wash where you are called and Adam born.
And here, not your essence, not your absence
weds the emptiness which is never me,
though these motions and these formless events
are preparation for humanity,
and I get up to love and eat and kill
not by my own, but by our married will.