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Book of Mercy

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  551 ratings  ·  29 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 b
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 15th 1986 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 1984)
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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
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.
Mw Pm
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
Nigel Marshall
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
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
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.
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.
Jun 13, 2008 Sara rated it 2 of 5 stars
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.
Ala'a Tawfiq
Leonard Cohen is spiritually sadomasochist.
Jon Cone

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.
Sarah Ansani
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.
Raymond Strodl
When I started this book I initially found it very dark and a little sad but as I moved on I was impressed by the powerful prose and the interesting glimpse I was being given into this poets spiritual journey.

The book is powerful, thought provoking and very beautiful.
Absolute beauty. I am somewhat on spiritual overwhelm after reading this. There is too much here to process at once, or in a book review of a few lines. I identify intensely and personally with a number of these 'psalms' and highly recommend this work.
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.
I used to leave this book in my car so when I was stuck I could pull it out and read something. Just pick a page. Then the laundry detergent decided to swallow it with sticky goo and I had to bury it properly.
Mark Drew
It seems that I purchased this book first in 2007, so now I have two copies of it. It all comes back to me - I didn't understand it than and I still don't. How does one rate such a book?
absolutely beautiful. Its been a long time since i read it but it was fantastic. A really quick read and good to pick up and start from anywhere in the book.
Dear Leonard,

I knew you were an amazing poet and without-par musician, but I had no idea that you also had a gig as the Holy Spirit.

"blessed are you who, among the numberless swept away in terror, permitted a few to suffer carefully"
I'm sure there is more to this book than its exploration of faith but I am not going to go any deeper!
Mar 23, 2007 David added it
Shelves: poetry, judaica, favorites
New Psalms written with bitterness, solitude, and reverance. An attempt at a Unified Heart.
Jodi Lu
Back on the street where I found it. Not even worth the 30 mins it took to entertain this.
I sometimes read pieces from "Book of Mercy" as the morning prayer.
Jesper Sorensen
he has some hurt hidden away somewhere inside
Contemporary psalms by Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen, I love you.
My love 4
Alyosha marked it as to-read
Dec 21, 2014
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Leonard Norman Cohen is 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 inf
More about Leonard Cohen...
Beautiful Losers Book of Longing Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs The Favorite Game Selected Poems, 1956-1968

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“Blessed are you who circled desire with a blade, and the garden with fiery swords, and heaven and earth with a word.” 6 likes
“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.” 5 likes
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