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Book of Longing

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  8,234 ratings  ·  608 reviews
Leonard Cohen is one of the great writers, performers, and most consistently daring artists of our time. Book of Longing is Cohen’s eagerly awaited new collection of poems, following his highly acclaimed 1984 title, Book of Mercy, and his hugely successful 1993 publication, Stranger Music, a Globe and Mail national bestseller. Book of Longing contains erotic, playful, and ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by McClelland & Stewart (first published April 25th 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  8,234 ratings  ·  608 reviews

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Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pagehabit, pomes
this book...basically, when he was in his sixties, leonard cohen went up a mountain to live and study in a buddhist monastery, and during the five years he was there, he was really horny and wrote a bunch of poems about it.

i'm sure it didn't help that the monastery was the mt. baldy zen center, which is quite a suggestive name.

leonard cohen’s always been the guy who lives on the seam where the the spiritual meets the erotic, only here he's moved away from imagery based in biblical and jewish m
Ahmad Sharabiani
Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen
Book of Longing is the first new poetry book by Leonard Cohen since 1984's Book of Mercy. First published in 2006 by McClelland and Stewart, Book of Longing contains 167 previously unpublished poems and drawings, mostly written at a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy in California, where Cohen lived from 1994 to 1999, and in India, which he visited regularly during the late 1990s. The book also incorporates a number of poems written after his 1978 book, Death of a Lady's
D. Pow
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dave Schaafsma
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
“My time is running out
and still
I have not sung
The great song
The true song”--Leonard Cohen

Charles Bukowski talks with Leonard Cohen about his book of poetry, Book of Longing. Both wrote a lot of books of poetry and fiction.

Buk: Some nice pomes in there, Lenny! Not bad! I like the pictures, too, especially the ones of all the women! Sweet!

Lenny: I like women! So sue me.

Buk: You won’t get any complaints from me! I like women quite a bit myself! My old pal Burroughs used to draw little things, too
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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

Peycho Kanev
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 09, 2009 added it
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
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks again Mr Cohen for your words, you will live on forever through them. Rest In Peace, Leonard Cohen.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF - thank Heaven!
4/5 stars

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

-Sorrows of the Elderly

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with Leonard Cohen's music, so it was only a matter of time before I delved into his poetry. His tone in the poetry was similar to his music, but also felt very different to just read rather than listen to. His poetry was witty, intellectual, sometimes psychedelic and thought-provoking. I tabbed so many of my pages, just collecting my favourite poe
"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"
Jeremy Bibaud
May 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 30, 2013 added it
Shelves: poetry
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
Oct 20, 2016 added it
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."
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5/5 stars.
Leonard Cohen was/is a very talented writer but I think his work is a bit too filled with how horny he is for me to read more.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, what-a-man, 2020
I don’t know about you, but since lockdown started I’ve really struggled to read anything. My scattered brain keeps wandering off to poke and worry at other things, and suddenly books I’d normally tear through are being read over months instead. I’m really missing my escapes into books and so, in an attempt to get my reading mojo back, I turned to the poetry of one of my favourites.

I’ve been a fan of Leonard Cohen for a very long time so it was no surprise that the Book of Longing, containing po
Max McNabb
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Leonard Cohen was a Jew who became a Zen monk who wrote songs and poems about Jesus for fifty years. He was also the absolute embodiment of what it means to be a writer. Book of Longing is alive with Leonard’s nights and days in the monastery on Mt. Baldy, featuring 230 pages of poems and drawings, most of those pages blackened during his time as a monk.

I learned to write poetry from reading and re-reading the poems in this book. I studied his work for meter and stress. I tried to figure out ho
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Huda AbuKhoti
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Miriam Cihodariu
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, canada
I expected this to be just like his songs are, but it's even better. It has the same mix of self-irony, spirituality, and eroticism, and reads just like a journal. He even has a poem dedicated to his diary, and it feels like he's talking to the actual book you're reading.

It's nice that the poems reflect some of the events of his life, too, especially his time experimenting with Buddhism and living in a monastery, trying to find a deeper spirituality, and falling just short of it. The regular des
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Only so far flagrant as to make one curious and often mystical. I enjoyed a few of these poems but all sins can be forgiven because it contains a mesmerizing meditation on the creative process and the artist. It's called Something from the early seventies. Leonard Cohen reminisces about his relationship with Nico in it, among other things. At one point he writes,"... Nothing anyone has ever said to me about the black photograph has meant fig to me, except Nico. She could read them. She knew what ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Andrew by:
Shelves: i-own-this, poetry
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
Pete daPixie
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, poetry
I really have mixed feelings about this....
when I started the book the first poem was so strong, so moving that every thing around me illuminated
but then through out the book there were some nice poems
not so nice poems
and some of them I just didn't understand
I really wanted to like Leonard Cohen more knowing that he had some influence on Kurt Cobain
maybe poetry isn't for me
or maybe I didn't find the right poet yet.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for dipping in and out of if you like to do that. Some poems are a few lines and some a few pages. Humour, irony, pathos, and sadness are all brushes of the old master in these poems. Some pedants may argue that some are not actually poems, more like doggerel but then they would, wouldn't they? The pages are dotted with Mr Cohen's little sketches, triptychs and icons all of which break up the text and add 'comments' to the poems. Highly recommended to fans. ...more
Víctor Bermúdez

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 precincts
trying to look like the real thing.
Needless to say
I am one of the fakes,
and this is my story.”
Apr 20, 2009 added it
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. ...more
Ain Ashura
Jan 19, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-books
"Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time."

He actually wrote that in this book.

The one star is for the apology.
C. Hollis Crossman
May 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
It's not that there are no moments of poetry in this book—it's that they're so few and far between, and when they do come they're too short.

I'm all for variations on a theme, but in Book of Longing Cohen beats his readers to a bloody pulp with repetition, turning the pale willow wand of romantic and sexual love into a knobby oak cudgel and covering it in the blood and brains of his victims. By the end of this volume we know three things about the author: he was a bad Zen monk because all he thou
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
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Play Book Tag: Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen - 3.5 stars 3 10 Jan 23, 2021 09:28PM  

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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

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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”
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