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Book of Mercy

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  790 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Popular since its original publication more than 25 years ago, Leonard Cohen's classic book of contemporary psalms is now beautifully repackaged.
Internationally celebrated for his writing and his music, Leonard Cohen is revered as one of the great writers, performers, and most consistently daring artists of our time. Now beautifully repackaged, the poems in Book of Mercy
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 15th 1986 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 1984)
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May 14, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing
Cohen sings from the gap. He knows exactly what his pain is all about, but that doesn't stop him from feeling it. He prays to a masculine God, which does not resonate so much for me, personally, but he is a Jewish man who believes in the Judeo-Christian divinity, and he sure isn't alone in that so I can't really fault him. My favorite verse from the collection is #27 which starts, "Israel, and you who call yourself Israel, the Church that calls itself Israel, and the revolt that calls itself Isr ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, fiction, religion
I don't always understand Leonard Cohen. Sometimes his references are too deep or not in my pool of knowledge, but even when i don't understand his words, i understand the feelings. This book is written in prose, but it is pure poetry. To be more exact, it is psalms. A soul crying out for understanding, love, protection, and many other things. The feelings expressed are ecumenical, finding truth and expression in the stories and myths of several faiths. I am in awe of his writing.
Mar 13, 2007 Rustam rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful prose poetry about the difficulties of faith. If you like his music, and you can tolerate a plethora of Biblical references, you'll enjoy this book quite a bit. He got me through college.
Nov 13, 2016 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of his most personal books of poetry. The Jewish symbolism and discourse is truly touching and his use of language is, as always, powerful. Leonard Cohen passed away this week and I could not ask for a more appropriate book to mourn him with. Rest In Peace World Last Troubadour.
Nigel Marshall
May 19, 2014 Nigel Marshall rated it it was ok
I do not know the world is lied
I have lied
I do not know if the world has conspired against love
I have conspired against love
The atmosphere of torture is no comfort
I have tortured
Even without the mushroom cloud
still I would have hated
I would have done the same things
even if there were no death
I will not be held like a drunkard
under the cold tap of facts
I refuse the universal alibi

Like an empty telephone booth passed night
and remembered
like mirrors in a movie Palace lobby consulted
only on th
Oct 25, 2014 Matthew rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I enjoy Cohen's music and poetry. What I don't enjoy about his music and poetry are the masculine and Judeo-Christian overtones. Unfortunately, these were a prominent part of this collection. Otherwise I strongly recommend this book to any admirers of Cohen. Unlike his other books, this is written in prose poetry. The book had the tone of a protest poem, and a mystical quality, both of which drew a direct comparison to the works of Kenneth Patchen.

"What I have not said, give me the courage to sa
Feb 12, 2016 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Defeated by silence, here is a place where the silence is more subtle. And here is the opening in defeat. And here is the clasp of the will. And here is the fear of you. And here is the fastening of mercy. Blessed are you, in this man’s moment. Blessed are you, whose presence illuminates outrageous evil. Blessed are you who brings chains out of the darkness. Blessed are you, who waits in the world. Blessed are you, whose name is in the world.
Jan 16, 2008 Alicia rated it it was amazing
this book recently saved me from......well lets just same that his reworking of psalms speaks directly to the hungers and grace that finds my soul. Even if you are not a fan musically (I'm not much of one) you can gain from it.
Mar 08, 2009 Cassie rated it really liked it
This is a book of psalms, although it wasn't what I expected. I read it all of the way through and started to read it again. The writing is very rich with layers of meaning, like poetry. Some of it is a bit obscure for me, but overall I like it.
Ala'a Tawfiq
Dec 04, 2011 Ala'a Tawfiq rated it really liked it
Leonard Cohen is spiritually sadomasochist.
Jun 13, 2008 Sara rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Poetry/short essays about Cohen's search for higher power. Kinda boring. Book of Longing is 1000 times better, as is his songwriting.
Diane Warrington
May 19, 2017 Diane Warrington rated it it was amazing
He originally wrote this in 1984. It's a compliation of his contemporary psalms once again exploring his relationship with God and how he works in the world. Always searching for meaning and understanding. Although these are modern they are in the tradition of a devotional and are resonating with me as I listen to his final album of songs "you want it darker." There is so much longing and sadness in these psalms but like John Donne this is the record of a personal relationship with God. Upliftin ...more
Ana  Vlădescu
Oct 26, 2016 Ana Vlădescu rated it liked it
"Book of Mercy" is a collection of psalms, written in what seems to me as a very truthful tone with regards to the original, Biblical psalms. The three star rating is more because I didn't enjoy the subject itself, but I should have the ability to give a separate rating of five stars to Cohen's artistry with words. This man is capable of amazing metaphors and the words just seem to flow in a constant, beautiful stream from his mind.
Mar 16, 2017 Malcolm rated it really liked it
A quick read. Triggers the imagination.
Jun 06, 2017 Maria rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book
Jan 06, 2017 Evelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A lyrical modern day prose version of the Bible's Psalms.
Jocasta Oliveira
Mar 19, 2017 Jocasta Oliveira rated it really liked it
Every day Psalms
THAT kid
Jun 29, 2016 THAT kid rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Came to Leonard Cohen's poetry after listening to his music, which is also poetry - on a bed where the moon has been sweating? and even though it all went wrong, we'll stand before the god of song? destroy me!! - and I wasn't disappointed.

Perhaps it is because he has such a prominence as a singer - and as a singer his voice is as close to speech as possible, but I sort of read the collection in his voice, which was a plus actually. If there was a comparison of this book and "Cohen's Greatest H
Alberto Carlos
Un poco meh. Cohen escribe con el corazón, pero no lo he leído como quien lee el periódico. No me ha logrado transmitir nada.
"Miro lejos, te olvidó y me pierdo. Alzó mis manos hacia ti. Me arrodilló ante mi corazón. No tengo otra casa. Mi amor está aquí..."
Jan 22, 2014 Dionne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am the kind of person who believes that every little thing happens for a reason. For some of these things, maybe the reason is more easily discerned, because of the significance of the events surrounding them, or the immediacy of their consequences. And when I said every little thing, I really mean it - down to the last detail, like the specific time when I pick up a book. And this book just reminded me of this again. It just felt like there is no other better period in my life when this book ...more
Jon Cone
Sep 09, 2010 Jon Cone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The psalm is sung to that Other we will never know. The knowledge of its imparting is sorrow and joy. It tells us only of what we cannot say, what will be revealed only when there is little left of us to know. The burning bush gave something that was not a psalm because Moses carried the tablets down and the people learned the meaning of fear. The other side of that same currency is where the psalm tunes its harp. These are ancient currencies, beyond the clock’s tock, the heart’s closing gates.
Donald Grant
Sep 04, 2015 Donald Grant rated it liked it
Sadly, I had not heard of Leonard Cohen until True Detective 2 used his song “Nevermind” as its theme song. The song intrigued me enough that I bought the album “Popular Problems”. After reading about Cohen I knew I had to buy some of his writings.

The Book of Mercy is billed as a modernization of Psalms. Cohen’s talent as a poet/writer is evident as he laments about life and its troubles. Written in a prose style, his poetic talent shines through.

While reading each selection, I was constantly re
Nov 26, 2016 Philipp rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, canada

Open me, O heart of truth, hollow out the stone, let your Bride fulfill this loneliness. I have no other hope, no other moves. This is my offering of incense. This is what I wish to burn, my darkness with no blemish, my ignorance with no flaw. Bind me to your will, bind me with these threads of sorrow, and gather me out of the afternoon where I have torn my soul of twenty monstrous altars, offering all things but myself.

Heavy prose poetry, more prayer than controlled stanzas - lots of old testam
Helga Cohen
Most people have heard of the late Leonard Cohen’s inspirational music like " Hallelujah". But he was also a very good Canadian writer of poems and verse. “Book of Mercy” is his classic book of contemporary psalms and is filled with so much spiritual meaning, and Jewish symbolism. He prays to the father of mercy and is on a spiritual journey and cries out from the soul. He writes of moments of despair and anger and also is uplifting in praise, beauty and hope. I found this to be a very inspirati ...more
Dec 30, 2016 Bradley rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This collection of 50 poems are filled to the brim with anger, tension, and sexual allure as Cohen recalls biblical figures and angels to represent his complex feelings of love and desire. Published in the mid-1980s, Cohen remains comfortable in his work as an accomplished writer in the years before his self-imposed retreat at the monastery. Not his strongest collection of written work, but a thematically richer and complex one
Sarah Ansani
Jul 23, 2014 Sarah Ansani rated it it was ok
If you know about the secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord,
then you might want to read this book of mercy.

In this book, Cohen poses fifty questions, praises, and askings of his Lord. Peppered throughout these prayers are familiar images (Samson and Delilah; King David and Bathsheba from the Bible) from his song "Hallelujah". Both that song and this book were released the same year, 1984.
Dec 31, 2016 brettlikesbooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brettlikesbooks
modern psalms & prayers + soul-baring verses of praise & pleading

"Sit down, master, on this rude chair of praises, and rule my nervous heart with your great decrees of freedom...In utter defeat I came to you and you received me with a sweetness I had not dared to remember...Blessed be the name of the glory of the kingdom forever and forever."

this beautiful little book seems a perfect finale to the year! wishing you all rivers of mercy in 2017!

instagram book reviews @brettlikesbooks
May 09, 2012 Irene rated it it was amazing
It 1985 this book meant the world to me. ID just seen Leonard In concert and was given this book - So it became so intertwined with my expereince at the time. Even though You can say its based on the Jewish/Hewbrew point of view I think thats just a base and the insights and feelings , can be seen as universal if you look. I know it resonated with me alot.
Jan 23, 2017 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
What can I say, it's Leonard Cohen. It's a lovely book. Billed as a contemporary Psalms, it resonates beautifully in that regard.

I only just finished, but I know that I must reread it again soon and allow his words to sink deeper into my psyche.
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Leonard Norman Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963.

Cohen's earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1968 album Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music melodies and instrumentation, sung in a high baritone. The 1970s were a musically restless period in which his in
More about Leonard Cohen...

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“When I have not rage or sorrow, and you depart from me, then I am most afraid. When the belly is full, and the mind has its sayings, then I fear for my soul; I rush to you as a child at night breaks into its parents' room. Do not forget me in my satisfaction. When the heart grins at itself, the world is destroyed. And I am found alone with the husks and the shells. Then the dangerous moment comes: I am too great to ask for help. I have other hopes. I legislate from the fortress of my disappointments, with a set jaw. Overthrow this even terror with a sweet remembrance: when I was with you, when my soul delighted you, when I was what you wanted. My heart sings of your longing for me, and my thoughts climb down to marvel at your mercy. I do not fear as you gather up my days. Your name is the sweetness of time, and you carry me close into the night, speaking consolations, drawing down lights from the sky, saying, See how the night has no terror for one who remembers the Name.” 11 likes
“Blessed are you who circled desire with a blade, and the garden with fiery swords, and heaven and earth with a word.” 9 likes
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