Leonard Cohen Quotes


I think there's an appetite for seriousness. Seriousness is voluptuous and very few people have allowed themselves the luxury of it.

It doesn't matter what you do because it's going to happen anyway.

I cannot understand why my arm is not a lilac tree.

What [Prozac] does is completely annihilate the sexual drive so the question of passion hardly arises.

Well it's true ever since I stopped eating meat I feel a lot better among animals I feel I can be much more honest when I pat a dog.

My abandoned narcotics have abandoned me.

I turned my back on the devil turned my back on the angel too.

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love..

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love

[Prozac] didn't seem to have any effect whatsoever on my melancholy my dark vision and everything else that I'd taken it for.

I don't have any spiritual strategy.

It doesn't matter how anything happens.

I don't even hate books anymore.

I think that any songwriter - and I think that Bob Dylan knows this more than all of us - you don't write the songs anyhow.

If you want a lover I'll do anything you ask me to. And if you want another kind of love I'll wear a mask for you.

Take one step to the side and it's all absurd.

Pay attention to the cracks because that's where the light gets in.

I had the title poet and maybe I was one for a while. Also the title singer was kindly accorded me even though I could barely carry a tune.

We are awakening from the dream of isolation from the dream of loneliness and it's a terrible shock.

History is a needle for putting men asleep anointed with the poison Of all they want to keep.

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well poetry is just the ash.

Prayer is translation. A man translates himself into a child asking for all there is in a language he has barely mastered.

Garages barns and attics are always older than the buildings to which they are attached.

Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore

Well for one thing in the tradition of Zen that I've practiced there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity.

It is different [to perform in Israel] because it arises from very deep wells of affiliation.

Dream after dream we all lie in each other's arms

I'm afraid to live any place but in expectation. I'm no life-risk.

As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder.

Songs donâ??t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.

Adam [Cohen] is a great singer-songwriter in his own right.

To have [Adam's Cohen] microscopic attention to my work was really a great privilege.

I found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win. You abandon your masterpiece and sink into the real masterpiece.

Although only one man may be receiving the favors of a woman all men in her presence are warmed.

A woman watches her body uneasily as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love.

You who build these altars now to sacrifice these children you must not do it anymore. A scheme is not a vision and you never have been tempted by a demon or a god .

I read with some amusement my reputation as a ladies' man. My friends are amused by that too because they know my life.

In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress.

G-d is alive. Magic is afoot. G-d is afoot. Magic is alive.

A community is an alibi for the failure of individual love.

Anything I tell you is an alibi for something else." Then let's be quiet together.

I dreamed about you baby. It was just the other night. Most of you was naked Ah but some of you was light.

Ah grief makes us precise!

When things get really bad just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That's about all you can do.

All the lousy little poets coming around trying to sound like Charles Manson.

When you stop thinking about yourself all the time a certain sense of repose overtakes you.

How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?

Iâ??ve seen the nations rise and fall. Iâ??ve heard their stories heard them all but loveâ??s the only engine of survival.

I listen to the radio and I like all kinds of music you know but I like to hear from people who have been there. Hank Williams has been there.

The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it's overturned the order of the soul...

May you be surrounded by friends and family and if this is not your lot may the blessings find you in your solitude.

He can love the shape of human beings the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men such balancing monsters of love.

The birds they sangat the break of day.Start again!!I heard them say

Like a bird on a wire like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried in my way to be free!!

How bitter were the Prozac pills of the last few hundred mornings

From bitter searching of the heart quickened with passion and with pain we rise to play a greater part this is the faith from which we start.

Your body will never be familiar.

I won't comment on what Bob Dylan said but I will comment on his receiving the Nobel Prize which to me is like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.

there's no forsaking what you love no existential leap as witnessed here in time and blood a thousand kisses deep

My interest in this pack of failures betrays my character.

It's four in the morning the end of december I'm writing you now just to see if you're better.

I am an old scholar better-looking now than when I was young. That's what sitting on your ass does to your face.

If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

This particular school of Zen has always considered itself the Marines of the spiritual world so it has a kind of bias against conceptual thinking in favor of a very rigorous physical life.

But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet: Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

The big change is the proximity to death.

A heavy burden lifted from my soul I heard that love was out of my control.

The Maestro says it's Mozart but it sounds like bubble gum when you're waiting for the miracle to come.

In the broken places the light shines through.

I finally broke into the prison I found my place in the chain Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows

I always felt I was scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get a song together.

I bargain now. I offer buttons for his love.

And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook with the photographs there and the moths.

I fought against the bottle but I had to do it drunk. Took my diamond to the pawn shop but that don't make it junk.

There are no letters in the mailbox And there are no grapes upon the vine And there are no chocolates in your boxes anymore And there are no diamonds in the mine

Iâ??ll be marching through the morning Marching through the night Moving 'cross the borders Of My Secret Life.

A sip of wine a cigarette And then itâ??s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. Iâ??m wanted at the traffic-jam. Theyâ??re saving me a seat.

And may my bronze name / touch always her thousand fingers / grow brighter with her weeping / until I am fixed like a galaxy / and memorized / in her secret and fragile skies.

You were Marlon Brando I was Steve McQueen you were K.Y. Jelly I was Vaseline.

We are ugly but we have the music.

His vision was just outstanding. If you think of him in the same way as Pele then you would come close.

It's you my love you who are the stranger.

Creators care nothing for their systems except that they be unique.

What were the bodies like on the beach? Ugly and white and ruined by offices.

Get ready for the future: it is murder.

Deprivation is the mother of poetry.

... i didn't fall in love of courseit's never up to youbut she was walking back and forthand i was passing through

Games are nature's most beautiful creation

After a while if you are sufficiently bored or unemployed you may want to read it from cover to cover.

Love is a fire/It burns everyone/It disfigures everyone/It is the world's excuse for being ugly.

Ring the bells that still can ring.

First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin

I was 15 when I first became deeply touched by the rhythm and structure of words.

You have money fame youth beauty talent. That's a good start... for feeling good.

a kite is a victim you are sure of. you love it because it pulls.

What a beautiful testament to the creative spirit and its true motives to creative contribution coming from a place of purpose rather than a hunger for profit.

Follow me the wise man said but he walked behind.

I wish I could say everything in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end.

A man never got a woman back... not by begging on his knees.

It's time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.

Friend when you speak this carefully I know it is because you don't know what to say.

Other people singing my songs is something that I've never been casual about. I've always been very touched by it and I always go into immediate critical suspension.

The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape.

I'm planning a catastrophe.

Don't call yourself a secret unless you mean to keep it.

My reputation as a ladies' man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.

Growing old becomes clear to you at a certain point. I think it's after the age of 70 you realize - you begin to actually be convinced - you're growing older.

Probably all cultures certainly Western culture always have been violent.

I looked into [Prozac]. I must say that it is certainly a wonder drug.

[Patrick Leonard] is such a magnificent composer. I don't think there is anybody working today with those kind of skills that could translate one of my tunes into that really beautiful chamber music.

Well I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one.

I never really liked poetry readings; I liked to read poetry by myself but I liked singing chanting my lyrics to this jazz group.

Everyone has a kind of magical system that they employ in the hopes that this will open up the channels.

...a young nurse is standing close behind me wondering whether she is being drawn by my power or her charity.

It's hard to be serious about so many things. [Look at the whole emphasis] on the charts if you're a songwriter.

I am not the one who loves - It's love that chooses me.

I am not the one who loved it's love that chooses me. When hatred with it's package comes you forbid delivery.

Journalists especially English journalists were very cruel to me. They said I only knew three chords when I knew five!

I don't remember lighting this cigarette and I don't remember if I'm here alone or waiting for someone.

Does anybody have a cigarette? I'm looking forward to that first smoke. I've been looking forward to [it] for about 30 years.

..you wanted to be the Superman who was never Clark Kent

Shouldering your loneliness like a gun that you will not learn to aim you stumble into this movie house then you climb you climb into the frame.

This is the most challenging activity that humans get into which is love. You know where we have the sense that we can't live without love. That life has very little meaning without love.

I will not be held like a drunkard / under the cold tap of facts

It's not a cry you can hear at night. It's not somebody who has seen the light. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

I want history to jump on Canada's spine with sharp skates.

Only in Canada could somebody with a voice like mine win 'Vocalist of the Year'.

I told the truth I didn't come to fool you

I don't trust my inner feelings inner feelings come and go.

Some say that no one ever leaves Montreal for that city like Canada itself is designed to preserve the past a past that happened somewhere else.

The art of longing's over and it's never coming back.

Do not believe the truth. The truth is tiny compared to what you have to do.

Just to get serious about this thing you know. One has to be compassionate. It's true that people are up against things economically and emotionally.

I alwaysthought of myself as a competent minor poet. I know who I'm up against.

I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me but the room just filled up with mosquitoes.

When you've fallen on the highway / and you're lying in the rain / and they ask you how you're doing / of course you'll say you can't complain...

I've expressed my gratitude to my son many times. And his career is far from undistinguished and it was a great privilege to have someone of this skill bringing this album to conclusion.

Raise a million filters and the rain will not be clean until the longing for it be refined in deep confession.

You who wish to conquer pain you must learn what makes one kind.

I would like to work with Pat [ Leonard] in any capacity. I would love to hear his versions.

There's a deep tribal aspect to my own nature. So when I'm in contact with those deep resources of course I feel a very special kind of nourishment.

Nothing can stop you from thinking. The human mind is designed to think continually.

Coroner's inquest: death by drowning. And he hasn't been to the sea-shore in ten years.

Suffering violent suffering seems to be something that corresponds with something that we experience.

[Europe has] this tradition of self revelation in popular music. We have it here - it's called Country Western Music... I think that's where the deeper and more complex subjects are treated.

Your heart opens and of course you're completely panicked because you're used to guarding this organ with your life.

I've always held the song in high regard because songs have got me through so many sinks of dishes and so many humiliating courting events.

To every people the land is given on condition. Perceived or not there is a Covenant beyond the constitution beyond sovereign guarantee beyond the nation's sweetest dreams of itself.

There is a crack in everything that's how the light gets in.

Everything has a crack in it; that's how the light gets in.

You have to keep cracking yourself open or you become a parody of yourself.

Like any joker he was watching For the card that is so high and wild He'll never need to deal another He was just some Joseph looking for a manger

Here is your cross Your nails and your hill; And here is your love That lists where it will

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed Everybody knows that the war is over Everybody knows the good guys lost.

At the very center of our culture is a crucified man a tortured man hanging on a cross of wood. You have an image of violence at the very center of our spiritual investigation.

No penance serves to renew them no massive transfusions of trust. Why not even revenge can undo them so twisted these vows and so crushed.

Here's to the few who forgive what you do and the fewer who don't even care

We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made. In love we disappear.

I can work on a verse for a very long time before realising it's not any good and then and only then can I discard it.

It just takes a long time for me [to write a song]. I'm very slow. And it comes kind of by dribbles and drops.

When you're younger you do have that thing that you were talking about where the mouth goes dry. I mean you have reactions and you do fall in love.

You've got a deadline. Well I do too: death.

There are a few things that deal with passion. There's Prozac.

Dear Hitler Take away the torches I'm not guilty I had to have this

The duty of lovers is to tarnish the Golden Rule

Don't dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be.

In our rags of light all dressed to kill.

Remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too and every breath we drew was "Hallelujah.

The wars they will be fought again The holy dove be caught again bought and sold and bought again; the dove is never free.

I don't think you can write novels on the road. You need a certain stability.

The Dream" "O I had such a wonderful dream she said. I dreamed you made love to me. At last he said to himself the spirit has taken up some of the heavy work.

The dreamers ride against the men of action. Oh see the men of action falling back.

My page was too white My ink was too thin The day wouldn't write What the night pencilled in.

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of Dance me to the end of love

Any startling piece of work has a subversive element in it a delicious element often. Subversion is only disagreeable when it manifests in political or social activity.

We all need that experience of forgetting who you are. Forgetting who you are is such a delicious experience and so frightening that we're in this conflicted predicament.

There's always a nice tune [on radio] - helps you get the dishes done . I like to get the news from time to time - not too often. I don't feel deprived.

Oh the sisters of mercy they are not departed or gone.

I said I was ready to die recently and I think I was exaggerating.That declaration of readiness no matter what the outcome that's a part of everyone's soul.

Never make a decision when you need to pee.

Certainly within any decadent period you would probably find the purest expressions of conviction and I do not see that in many of the people I know.

Seriousness is the deepest pleasure we have.

Silence And a deeper silence When the crickets Hesitate

You live your life as if it's real.......a thousand kisses deep

I think that all the spiritual training is just to be able to allow you to experience this from a slightly different perspective - one that's a little more stabilized.

May everyone live And may everyone die. Hello my love And my love Goodbye.

Most of our distractions are designed to invite us away from this recognition which is a good idea.

I would say the hummingbird really deserves the royalties on [some of my songs].

I have to finish it in order to know whether it deserves to survive.

Everybody knows the dice are loaded.

Everytime you grab at love you will lose a snowflake of your memory

even damnation is poisoned with rainbows.

How quickly pettiness returns and that most ignoble form of real estate the possessive occupation and tyranny over two square inches of human flesh the wife's cunt.

It is painful to recall a past intensity to estimate your distance from the Belsen heap to make your peace with numbers. Just to get up each morning is to make a kind of peace.

ordinary eternal machinery like the grinding of the stars

If you don't become the ocean you'll be seasick every day.

Every heart to Love will come but like a refugee

She was made of flesh and eyelashes.

The moon is swimming naked and the summer night is fragrant with a mighty expectation of relief.

I always considered myself a minor writer. My province is small and I try to explore it very very thoroughly.

We're always experiencing joy or sadness. But there are lots of people who've closed down. And there are times in one's life when one has to close down just to regroup.

Someone gave me wishes and I wished for an embrace.

Music is the emotional life of most people.

Music is the emotional life of the most people.

I think culture's always been violent and it is something we find very entertaining. Not only does it reflect our social reality but it also reflects our psychic reality.

Love is the only engine of survival

Rust rust rust in the engines of love and time

English I know you ... you are German with a license to kill.

I've forgotten most of what I've read and frankly it never seemed very important to me or to the world.

Who could have foretold the heart grows old from touching others

I've seen the future and it's murder.

I have tried in my way to be free.

All men will be sailors then Until the sea shall free them

One is given to self-dramatization from time to time. I intend to live forever.

Everybody knows that you've been faithful give or take a night or two.

I couldn't feel so I learned to touch.

My two great heroes are W. B. Yeats and Fernando Garcia Lorca.

When you're not feeling holy your loneliness says that you've sinned.

The less I was of who I was the better I felt.

Fare thee well my nightingale I lived but to be near you. Thow you are singing somewhere still I can no longer hear you.

Some people it [songwriting] comes faster. Some people it comes slower.

first of all nothing will happen and a little later nothing will happen again

A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

And clenching your fist for the ones like us Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty.

My two great heroes are W. B. Yeats and Federico Garcia Lorca.

I guess you go for nothing if you really want to go that far.

We used to play music for fun. Much more than now. Now nobody picks up a guitar unless they're paid for it.

Sail on sail on o' might Ship of State. To the shores of need past the reefs of greed through the squalls of hate. Sail on sail on sail on.

As the mist leaves no scar On the dark green hill So my body leaves no scar On you and never will

I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.

The obstacles are great and the suffering is great and people have got to make a living.

And I had not much of a voice. I didn't play that great guitar either.

The fact that my songs take a long time to write is no guarantee of their excellence.

You lose your grip and then you slip into the Masterpiece.

You go your way I'll go your way too

I'm neither left or right. I'm just staying home tonight getting lost in that hopeless little screen.

The poor stay poor the rich get rich / Thats how it goes / Everybody knows.

We do what only lovers can: make a gift out of necessity.

Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm

And sometimes when the night is slow The wretched and the meek We gather up our hearts and go A Thousand Kisses Deep.

Maybe there's a god above but the only thing I learned from love was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew you.

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.

I swear by this song and by all that I have done wrong I will make it all up to thee.

The winter has not killed usagain!

He knew that hair couldn't feel; he kissed her hair.

You can keep the body as well-oiled and receptive as possible but whether you're actually going to be able to go for the long haul is really not your own choice.

It's hard to hold the hand of anyone who is reaching for the sky just to surrender

I don't know which side is anybody on any more. I don't really care. There is a moment when we have to transcend the side we're on and understand that we are creatures of a higher order.

When we are touched by a song it is because the artist cannot hide himself.

And most people have a woman in their heart most men have a woman in their heart and most women have a man in their heart.

No one masters the heart.

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.

If you're lucky you can keep the vehicle healthy and responsive over the years. If you're lucky your own intentions have very little to do with this.

Poetry is a verdict rather than an intention.

And what can I tell you my brother my killer what can I possibly say? I guess that I miss you I guess I forgive you I'm glad you stood in my way

Maybe the culture is [particularly] shabby now. Maybe it's because I'm over sixty that I can feel that about everything.

I have often prayed for you like this Let me have her

I've often said if I knew where the good songs came from I'd go there more often.

You can say that I've grown bitter but of this you can be sure. The rich have get their channels in the bedrooms of the poor. And there's a mighty Judgement coming but I may be wrong...

If you're squeezed for information / that's when you've got to play it dumb: / You just say you're out there waiting / for the miracle for the miracle to come.

I almost went to bed without remembering the four white violets I put in the button-hole of your green sweater and how i kissed you then and you kissed me shy as though Iâ??d never been your lover

And this is our time-keeper with a passion for percussion

I always loved those little creatures [hummingbird] always feel blessed when they appear nearby. There's a magical quality to them. I finally put one in a song.

You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal.

We are so small between the stars so large against the sky.

To the men and women who own men and women those of us meant to be lovers we will not pardon you for wasting our bodies and time

At first first nothing will happen to us and later on it will happen to us again.

I don't really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I'd like to come back as my daughter's dog.

Any of the decisions that I made if one could actually locate a shape or form were all within a wall the landscape of music.

When you call me close to tell me your body is not beautiful I want to summon the eyes and hidden mouths of stone and light and water to testify against you.

Do not be a magician - be magic!

Love is not a victory march

This mental space is occupied and everything is mine.

I've never thought of myself as a religious person.

I don't have a television set up [in the mountains] of course but I find I don't miss it at all or the newspaper. I've sneaked a radio into by cabin but I find I turn it on very rarely.

I kind of limp along like so many of us do in these realms. Occasionally I've felt the grace of another presence in my life but I can't build any kind of spiritual structure on that.

The older I get the surer I am that I'm not running the show.

Women stand for the objective world for a man. They stand for the thing that you're not and that's what you always reach for in a song.

Seriousness is not Calvinistic it's not a renunciation it's the very opposite of that.

I try to make those references. I try to make sure that they're not too obscure. But outside of that I dare not claim anything in the spiritual realm for my own.

Act the way you'd like to be and soon you'll be the way you act.

The troubles came and I saved what I could save. A thread of light a particle a wave.

I want to be paid for my work not work for my pay.

I didn't want to write for pay. I wanted to be paid for what I write.

My sense of proprietorship has been so weak that actually I didn't pay attention and I lost the copyrights on a lot of the songs.

I don't consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.

A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love...

You win a while and then itâ??s done - Your little winning streak.

Stunned and still not suffering. Swollen with care and anxiety and still not suffering. Useless old and full of grief but still not suffering.

To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older.

I always thought that poetry is the verdict that others give to a certain kind of writing. So to call yourself a poet is a kind of dangerous description. It's for others; it's for others to use.