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Book of Longing (Popular Penguins)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  4,629 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
Leonard Cohen made his name as a poet before he came to worldwide attention as a singer and songwriter. Book of Longing was twenty years in the making and written in Montreal, Mumbai and during his retreat in Mt Baldy. These poems show the full range of one of the most influential and enigmatic writers of his generation.
Mass Market Paperback, 231 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin Group (Australia) (first published April 25th 2006)
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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
Nov 29, 2015 Foad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
از ميان هزاران هزار نفر
كه به عنوان شاعر
شناخته شده اند
شايد يكى دو تا
شاعر واقعى باشند
الباقى جعلى اند
دور و بر ساحت هاى مقدس مى پلكند
و سعى مى كنند خود را يك شاعر حقيقى جا بزنند.
گفتن ندارد
من هم يكى از همان جعلى ها هستم.

مرگ بر هر كسى
چه مرد و چه زن
كه اين شعر را بگشايد
شعرى كه من در آن لباس سياه مى پوشم.

و متبرك مى كنم چشمان شما را
كه از اين صفحه به سرعت عبور مى كنيد.
Feb 05, 2008 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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

Ana  Vlădescu
"A record of
Our little truth
The cloth we wove
The tools we used

The games of luck
Our soldiers played
The stones we cut
The songs we made

Our law of peace
Which understands
A husband leads
A wife commands"
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
Peycho Kanev
Jan 21, 2015 Peycho Kanev rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Sadly, this is the best poem in this book:


Out of the thousands
who are known,
or who want to be known
as poets,
maybe one or two
are genuine
and the rest are fakes,
hanging around the sacred
trying to look like the real thing.
Needless to say
I am one of the fakes,
and this is my story.
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
Zohreh Hanifeh
نمیدونم حس خوبی داشتم به این کتاب یا نه. خب، از دبیرستان با آهنگای کوهن رفیق بودم و بعضی ترانههاش حکم لالایی شب رو داشت برام... از اونا که میذاری رو تکرار و اونقدر میخونه و میخونی تا خوابت ببره... تو تمام سالهای بعد از اون هم همینطور. نمیدونم famous blue raincoat یا you got me singinig یا winter lady و بقیهی آهنگهاش رو چند صد هزار بار گوش دادم... اینه که جنس شعرهاش و حس ترانههاش رو میشناسم. اینه که از دیدن سه نقطهها وسط متن شعر حرصم میگیره. یا جایی که ترانه برام آشناست و میبینم به جای you kiss m ...more
Jeremy Bibaud
May 27, 2012 Jeremy Bibaud rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jan 31, 2014 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Oct 20, 2016 Hansa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just recently started reading poetry, so I don't really know how to rate it. I did truly enjoy the whole book; the weirdness and the beauty of it, but then again I don't feel like I understood half of the book because I don't know much about Leonard Cohen and his life. Still, I'm going to give the book 4 stars, just because I really enjoyed reading it.

Some of my favorite poems from the book include: "Better", "Fun", "I Wrote For Love", "Nightingale", "The Faith" and "Report To R.S.B."
Huda AbuKhoti
Raw and unedited, I felt like I was having a conversation with Leonard Cohen. wasn't particularly amazed by the poetry, but it is really smart. The moment I start losing interest he'll drop that witty or deep poem which will keep me going. I don't love it and I can't say I hate it. I think I will leave it at respecting his being.

I could not kill
The way you kill
I could not hate
I tried I failed
No man can see
The vast design
Or who will be
Last of his kind
The story’s told
With facts and lies
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
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Oct 14, 2008 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2008
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!
Dec 17, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Near the end of Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing he includes a letter to his Chinese readers:

Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honour, and a surprise, to have the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful or amusing. . . .

This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May I sug
Jan 18, 2017 Juliana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The longings of an old horny jewish man, looking for enlightenment in a buddhist monastery.

On a cute note... I read it cover to cover, and was sort of regretting it, since I like reading poetry in bits and pieces, when I get to this passage 'May I suggest that you skip over the parts you don't like? Dip into it here and there. Perhaps there will be a passage, or even a page, that resonates with your curiosity'. I didn't need validation on my poetry reading ways, but I couldn't help but smile.
Dec 31, 2016 Kaloyana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Прекрасен Ленард Коен - такъв какъвто си го знаем - романтичен, нежен, тъжен, честен и много, много поетичен. Книгата съдържа и негови рисунки, както и ръкописно написани текстове.
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
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
Feb 02, 2012 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2012 Gia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 26, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2017 Vanya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The old are kind.
The young are hot.
Love may be blind.
Desire is not.

(Leonard Cohen)
Jan 25, 2017 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nov 21, 2016 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, music
Just when you think 2016 can't possibly get any worse, it takes Leonard Cohen from us. Book of Longing is a collection of poems, illustrations, thoughts, and other interesting tidbits from the artist's life. Many reflect sadly on lost loves and lost opportunities while others are full of contemplation and spirituality. It is not the best collection of poems I have read, but I love Cohen's music and consider him a great talent that will be truly missed.

"A Life of Errands"

If You Are Lucky
You Will
Nov 11, 2016 Skye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
EDIT: 3.7 - I don't read poetry books often, but I definitely plan on doing so in the new year. I feel like I'm shit at reviewing poetry, but I really enjoyed the mixture of humor, sensual endeavors, and enlightened musings Cohen wrote about. I also enjoyed his artwork throughout.

Some randomly selected poems I enjoyed from this book were: My Life in Robes; Better; Disturbed this Morning; Never Mind; A Note to the Chinese Reader.


I actually started this a few months ago by reading a poem here an
Nov 13, 2016 Lehcar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Consumerism as a medication against emptiness and dissatisfaction. - spiritual vacuum but what is spiritual? A lifelong question ( see book of mercy) showing that while looking for enlightenment, relief, and an answer to the void, Cohen's realisations are beginning to turn towards the idea of returning to his original god: or rather the values his parents instilled in him, adapted to the changing world. Book of Mercy discusses religion and spirituality in reflection of the his Jewish upbringing ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Bea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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“I don't remember
lighting this cigarette
and I don't remember
if I'm here alone
or waiting for someone.”
“You go your way
I'll go your way too”
More quotes…