In search of that beautiful calm

Fancy that. Leonard Cohen’s song “Suzanne” was not even owned by him.

He had brought forth much dark poetry and song,

Whittled each word using the hard edge of life,

Portioned out love, by loving often,

And survived the haze of raucous nights with friends when not

Hunched over a guitar or mic,

Dressed from head to toe in black

On stage.


He managed somehow to fight through the gloom,

The loss of fortune, the sad clutch of despondency,

And turn the page.

Straight as a shabbat candle,

Poor as a Buddhist monk,

Helped by his stays in Mumbai,

He eventually broke clear, came into the light,

Saw that love was service,

And realised that his songs could be given over

To other women to sing.

No longer songs of seduction, or pathways to fame,

His later songs for Adjani, his muse,

Written under pressure of time,

Almost granted her custody of his genius,

But did not.


Nevertheless, something, somewhere, lit the fuse

Of transformation. He became an old man philosophising

Through a young woman’s voice,

As if allowing himself to step free of body and desire

To become a poet of this age. A mere shadow on the stage,

Even less of who he was than before,

He took to the long road and found his way home.

Brian Devlin

January 7, 2017

Sunrise Beach

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