Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Readings: A Tough Pill to Swallow

This morning I finished reading Leonard Cohen's poetry collection, The Energy of Slaves. Most of the poems were written in the late 1960s. The collection was published early in the 1970s. There are 116 poems in the book. Most of them are very short. Most of them have no title other than a number, although a handful do have titles.

It seems to me to be an angry, bitter book. The short poem I share here, number 114, seems to me to typify the world-view that Cohen creates with these works:


Every time my wife has a baby
she goes crazy
she sees the world clearly
and she goes crazy
We have to put her away
so we can get back to the war
Men and women are killed
right in front of the baby

To see the world clearly is to go crazy. I have to admit that it often seems that way.



agellius said...

Kind of a pro-life poem in a way. : )

Rodak said...

Welcome, Agellius.

GretchenJoanna said...

I always said that just having a baby in the house gives a fresh and truer perspective on life, on what is important. I'd never read a poem that expresses that phenomenon so intensely. Now that I think about it anew inspired by Cohen, I wonder if I was the only one who experienced this; it was always my own baby I was talking about.

Rodak said...

Welcome, GretchenJoanna--
Having a baby in the house is, indeed, a thing that changes one's entire perspective on existence and all of its components. I guess that's why this little poem has such a big punch.