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Book of Longing

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,290 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Internationally celebrated for his writing and his music, Leonard Cohen is one of the legendary writers, performers, and most consistently daring artists of our time. Book of Longing is his dazzling new collection of poetry -- twenty years in the making -- written on southern California's Mount Baldy and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. Following his highly acclaimed ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 240 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Ecco (first published November 4th 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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D. Pow
This book. This beautiful, beautiful book. Damn, I’m glad I picked this up. I’ve never read such a wonderful combination of sensual reverie, raw but fading lust and something damn close to Zen enlightenment. Cohen is a good, perhaps great poet, but he was also a practicing Zen monk when he wrote these poems as well as a long standing pilgrim in faith of the holiness of the body. For every poem extolling the benefits of Zazen and mindfulness you’ll read another of fruitful and unalloyed appreciat ...more
Ellen
Favorite Poems

The Book of Longing

I can't make the hills
The system is shot
I'm living on pills
For which I thank G-d

I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart

I sailed like a swan
I sank like a rock
But time is long gone
Past my laughing stock
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn't write
What the night pencilled in

My animal howls
My angel's upset
But I'm not allowed
A trace of regret

For someone will use
What I couldn't be
My heart will be hers
Impersonally

She'l
...more
Ryk
One of the best lessons I learned from this book is to just let go and write, not worrying if it's going to be "good" or not. Don't get me wrong- there is incredible poetry in here (along with often very astute drawings) but there is also a lot "I promised myself I would write something". Some of it is inspired, some not.

Included are lyrics to a few of my favorite Cohen songs, like "Alexandra Leaving" and "Love Itself" which only makes the collection better.

Most of the poems/scribblings concern
...more
Andrew
Leonard Cohen's poetry is... uneven. Some of the poems in this volume are wonderful little incantations. Others strike me as song lyrics-- and the unfortunate thing about song lyrics is that they tend to make horrible poetry, even if they're great lyrics, and a great lyricist Leonard Cohen undoubtedly is. And yet others are Zen-inspired pabulum that seemed fine in Allen Ginsberg's day, but now-- especially that I live in a Buddhist country, and have developed a repulsion towards Buddhism equal t ...more
Pete daPixie
Leonard, the horny old Jewish priest, returns from the summit of Mount Baldy with his ten of songs. Published 2006, this collection of poems and songs with many pencil sketches to accompany the pages, covers mainly, his work over the last three decades.
Leonard Cohen is a poet, first and foremost. The book contains many self portrait drawings, as though the man is totally immersed in the search for soul. The poems radiate his wit and humour that is contained in much of L.C.'s works, but with prof
...more
Tara
I've known his music for a hundred years, and some poetry, but was inspired to explore more after hearing a Fresh Air interview with him recently that I thought was terrific.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I'm not a huge fan of poetry, and I find most of it pretty alienating and annoying, but Cohen has such a lovely tone, and doesn't seek to be "clever" by being obtuse. Which means his poetry actually says something to me (and makes sense: I can understand what he's saying, or relate to it, or interpret it), which makes it something worth treasuring :)

Also, I love his drawings and sketches!
Andrea
The Book of Longing is a compilation of poems and sketches from Leonard Cohen's 'earlier poet days' and written during his time in a Buddhist monastery. They are poems of reflection, observation and personal experience being a man. As always, Mr. Cohen's poetry is poignant, playful, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating, brooding and enlightening. These poems are less lyrical, and closer to abstract musings, lending us glimpses or snapshots into his younger male life and comparing or lamenting his y ...more
Richard
if you like leonard then you'll enjoy this. some poems are rambling, one or two others are a little trite but for the most part the wry humour and linguistic skill is clear and present
Gia
I truly adore Cohen, I think he is most and foremost a poet, a brilliant one. I love his music and the inevitable poetry that you get with it.
This book is beautiful, the poems are sad, ironic, raw.
It is truly one of the best poetry compilations I've read, the reason I'm giving it four stars is because, in the middle of stunning poems, you'd get the occasional one that just seemed uninspired. Strongly recomend it.
kate
bono already confessed 'every artist is a cowboy every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration and sing about their grief'. and so it is.

i have had this book for years and, after an endless rush of non-poetry moments, finally picked it up tonight and really liked it. cohen is self deprecating, torn between lust and enlightenment and older than the last time i read him. the result is erotic, questioning, wise and funny. the volume is filled with little drawings and prose, unbelievably short p
...more
Po Po
Some poems were just amazing and others were meh. (This is why it's just a 3 star.)

Ok-and here's something silly:

It was disturbing for me to read that such an old man still has sexual desires and still has sex.

I know, I should get over that... But seriously, he was born in 1934!! People born in that year are doing it still ?!


The poems I really liked -- (1) "separated" (2) "the flow" and (3) "Looking through my dreams"
Judy
I love this book. It sits where it can be picked up daily and dipped into. Each gem talks to me in a different way. I have read them all, some several times, but never cover to cover. Just open the covers and see who pops out. A lovely gift from a special person in my life.
Bea
This book came to me when life was rather bare. It delighted me. and still does, in many ways. It was a connection with the ways of words, and a writer, from my youth. It contains poems which write about the strangeness of spiritual wondering. And I found in it a couple of poems which make it to my 'funeral' collection.

It is a work of superogation to review Leonard Cohen. But tis book is a small pleasure, with sketches as well as poems and songs from a man who has lived and thought.

For me, two p
...more
mathilda_craft
This has got to be a book I HAVE to own.

Because poetry is so sweet and deep (not to say this particular author is; just in general) that you need to take time and care with it in order to absorb in it's right content. Poetry books are not to be read in one sitting. They are to be lapped at like a dog licking a puddle. Like a child sucking a lollipop. It's not as enjoyable, otherwise.


I like what I've read so far. He's much more simple in his wording that most poets I know of, but there is a lot o
...more
Andrew
Oct 24, 2014 Andrew rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: http://www.miffedinclifton.blogspot.ca
I guess I don't get it. The drawings look like they were drawn in Microsoft Paint. The poems that spread over more than one page has a small Microsoft Word pointer finger leading the reader to the next page.

The poems seem lazy and most are about not worrying about quality or about getting erections.

Songs of Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite albums, and I enjoy most of his music. This lacks his usual complex imagery and multiple meanings. I wasn't able to experience anything more than a haunt
...more
Andy
This was the second of Cohen's books that I read, after Stranger Songs (which was itself a compilation of various song lyrics and excerpts from his poetry and prose). It was very good, but the material sometimes seemed to be beyond my grasp. This is very much a product of the more aged and angrier Cohen, as opposed to the softer feel of his '60s work. However, certain poems and especially many specific stanzas or lines shook me, so I must say that this was great. I look forward to reading it whe ...more
Max Nemtsov
собрание тех - очень ценных - мгновений, когда поэт впускает тебя к себе, например, когда бреется по утрам перед зеркалом, и никакого тебя рядом быть просто не должно. ну и да - видимо, лучшее понимание Коэна приходит с возрастом
Guiltpop
If Leonard Cohen and his hopeful words had not come into my life, I'm not sure I'd still be alive today.

This book has Leonard looking back and examining his public image, his time as a "rock star," as well as his time in the monastery with grace and is full of nonjudgemental truths.

The art & drawings that accompany the words are beautiful as well.

His words are helpful and lovely. I'm not sure what else to say
Conner
As a fan of Leonard Cohen's music, I would like to be able to rate his poetry higher. I am of the opinion that he is one of the best songwriters of his generation, however (keep in mind that this is the first book of poems by him I have read) I found this to be an overall weak and bloated collection. As one reviewer before me noted, most of these poems do in fact read like song lyrics, and some of the best song lyrics of all time just wouldn't make great poems. It's a different sort of style tha ...more
Amanda
There's a red and blue and black and yellow bird on the cover of this book. But the insides are black and white which is more reflective of my memory. I shall write some poetry now and it will be very very good undoubtedly.
Deborah
I love Leonard Cohen's music but I think of him primarily as a musician. In the poem 'Titles' Cohen asks: "... and now Gentle Reader/in what name/in whose name do you come/to idle with me/in these luxurious/and dwindling realms/of Aimless Privacy?" Well, I came with the name musician and I left with the name musician poet. It's apparently impossible to divorce the two for me, and some do read more like songs than poems (but then some of his songs sing more like poems). I discovered that it reall ...more
Fran
Jul 15, 2014 Fran rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers, song lovers, philosophers
Recommended to Fran by: Dorie Raven
If you're not interested in free form poetry and randomly recorded descriptive thoughts, you probably won't like Leonard Cohen's latest book of poetry. Much of what has been written creates vivid pictures of artists' haunts or religious treat; others contain the brutally honest doubts and reservations of a man in spiritual crisis. Cohen makes it plain that even as a holy man he is still human and that, as such, he still loves himself and others as sexual beings.

The poems are interspersed with qu
...more
Jeremy Bibaud
I really want to like Leonard Cohen. I'm not sure why, but I feel like he's a writer out of his time. I find myself drawn to his work but, disappointingly, have yet to read anything that I enjoy. I've even tried to listen to most of his music and it just doesn't work for me. I suppose it could be that I enjoy his persona more than his writing.

'Book of Longing' marks my last attempt to become a fan. There's probably 200+ pieces in total here and I would call it a stretch to say I even liked three
...more
J.V. Stanley
Brandishing an eloquently written book of poetry is none other than legendary Leonard Cohen. His ‘Book of Longing’ (Ecco; Reprint edition May 29, 2007), boasts a myriad of different colorful scales of words that balance delicately his reflection upon women, Zen doctrine, his advancing age, and others. Best known for his resonant tones that captures the mind and senses with sultry vocals and lyrics, Cohen’s Longing reads much like the lyrics to his songs. Beyond all honesty, he pours out his hear ...more
Eniko
D'une certaine manière, il s'agissait d'une relecture, car j'avais déjà lu le Book of Longing auparavant. En réalité, il s'agissait d'une étude, cette fois-ci. Étant étudiante en traduction, j'ai voulu comparer les textes de départ et d'arrivée. Ainsi, j'ai aussi relu, en parallèle, le Book of Longing .

En comparant, j'ai redécouvert le texte de départ, en plus d'en acquérir une meilleure compréhension. C'est drôle; parfois, sur le coup, je remarquerais quelque chose qui me semblait mal traduite
...more
Aad
--BETTER--

better than darkness
is fake darkness
which swindles you
into necking with
someone’s antique
cousin

better than banks
are false banks
where you change
all your rough money
into legal tender

better than coffee
is blue coffee
which you drink
in your last bath
or sometimes waiting
for your shoes
to be dismantled

better than poetry
is my poetry
which refers
to everything
that is beautiful and
dignified, but is
neither of these itself

better than wild
is secretly wild
as when I am in
the darkness of
a parking space
with
...more
Socialbookshelves.com
Book of Longing is one of Cohen's more recent releases, a collection of poetry and sketches that he made during his later years. It also contains one of my favourite Cohen creations - 'My Guitar'. It's quite simple, really - a sketch of the poet's guitar, accompanied by: 'My guitar is so beautiful, sometimes I wish I could play it.'

It's a great place to start if you're new to Cohen's work, and even veteran readers of his incomparable poetry will still find some hidden gems to add to their collec
...more
Kaj Peters
Zonder het melancholische en warme stemgeluid van de zanger blijven er teksten over die nogal cryptisch en hermetisch zijn. Bij het ene gedicht werkt dat bezwerend en raakt het mij wel, maar vaker moest ik mij lichtelijk geërgerd door de bundel heen worstelen. Wel sprak mij het speelse en de terloopsheid van de bundel aan. Het straalt uit alsof je toegang hebt tot de intieme gedachtesprongen van iemand die af en toe een aantekening maakt als hij een ingeving krijgt. Misschien moet ik het ooit no ...more
Raymond Strodl
This was the first time I had read the poems of this iconic singer songwriter and I was blown away by the insights offered to his life and thoughts by his beautiful and thought provoking words. I realized he is a great songwriter and a even greater poet.

Any one looking for a beautiful and thought provoking read should dip into this wonderful book of poetry that I have put into my top 10 books of poetry.
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52060
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
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“I don't remember
lighting this cigarette
and I don't remember
if I'm here alone
or waiting for someone.”
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“You go your way
I'll go your way too”
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