21 red-hot lines from Leonard Cohen's "The Flame".

Written by Cole Schafer

Before venturing into music, Leonard Cohen wrote three collections of poetry followed by two novels –– his last of which, Beautiful Losers, would go on to receive an enormous amount of attention with some comparing the book’s stream-of-conscious style to the late James Joyce.

While Cohen would ultimately make a name for himself as a singer-songwriter, he was first and foremost a writer of poetry and prose –– a place he would inevitably return to in the twilight of his years.

I recently picked up his final book, The Flame, a collection of lost poems, lyrics, journal excerpts and self-portraits that left me feeling both insecure and inspired.

Leonard Cohen was prolific and when watching his prolificness from the sidelines, it’s difficult to not question one’s own ability while longing to achieve his same success.

Anyway, here were a handful of my favorite lines from The Flame

*Leonard Cohen is typing now*

  1. I was always working steady but I never called it art.
  2. If the crazy god did not want us to eat one another why make our flesh so sweet.
  3. You missed the point of poetry it’s all about them not about me.
  4. Sometimes it gets so lonely, I don’t know what to do, I’d trade my stash of boredom for a little hit of you.
  5. Her nipples underneath my hand, her fingers in my hair –– a forest crying from the dead and fragrance everywhere.
  6. And you’re stuck behind your house like an old rusted truck that will never haul another load.
  7. I never think about the past but sometimes the past thinks about me and sits down ever so lightly on my face ––
  8. In the new hotels the elevators are often so dark the mirrors are useless (like this one).
  9. If I catch you making fun of me, I’ll wash your face with stones.
  10. I pray for courage at the end to see death coming as a friend.
  11. Been on the road forever I’m always passing through but you’re my first love and my last, there is no one, no one after you.
  12. You want to change the way I make love, I want to leave it alone.
  13. I’m lacing up my shoes, but I don’t want to run, I’ll get here when I do, don’t need no starting gun.
  14. A weekend on your lips a lifetime in your eyes
  15. Was I ever someone who could love you forever.
  16. You want it darker, we kill the flame.
  17. There’s a lover in the story but the story is still the same.
  18. And your drunken kisses which were like someone trying to eat my voice raw like a living oyster.
  19. I’ve driven a pin through your footprint to make you stumble and swoon, I’ve covered it all with detail from somebody’s old honeymoon.
  20. I kissed you {once} hard as if I were young and you were so kind to pretend that I was.
  21. I could sell an angel paper wings.

By Cole Schafer (but mostly Leonard Cohen).

P.S. For more write-ups on songwriters you should check out Kris Kristofferson and, perhaps, Shel Silverstein>.