album cover circa 1980s
It has been covered so often, and changed so often, that more than 300 versions of it now exist: many, or even most of them, Christian, despite having been written by an observant Jew who is also a Zen-Buddhist.
Kim says of this challenge: "To inspire your own rendition of praise, I share two videos. Watch them. Feel the emotion in each. Hear the beauty in both. Become inspired."
I know Leonard Cohen suffered from depression, and his early works often contained themes of self-harm and suicide. My poem today is in praise of Cohen himself, a man who triumphed over his doubts and fears to become one of the most honored and decorated men in my country today.
Wikipedia says of him "Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into the AmericanRock and Roll Hall of Fame and both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received a Prince of Asturias Award for literature."
I have used many words and phrases taken from the video of Leonard Cohen performing the song as he wrote it. My poem suggests that there was a time or more when his faith was gone. I don't know that it ever was, but I suspect it because of his history of depression.
Leonard Cohen, 2008
Leonard Cohen knew the word
he knew the only word
when his faith was gone
he needed proof
he stood and cried
upon the roof
and tried to find
deep in his mind
the note that made them sing oh hallelujah
he cursed the crowd
and pulled his hair
and from his lips he drew a hallelujah
but wondered if it was the chord
that David played, that pleased the Lord
or was it just a lonely hallelujah
a brilliant, lonely singer’s hallelujah?
Kay Davies, December, 2013