The Master Song

Sunday 25th March

 I have joined a Leonard Cohen appreciation group on Facebook called “Diamonds in the Mind”.  They were discussing The Master Song from his first album.  It is a brilliant song, of course.  But several people were trying to analyse it, to discover what the song meant, was it autobiographical, etc.  One of my replies is as follows, and I think it sums up just what happens when we listen to Poetry.

“Maybe. I just prefer to lose myself in the beauty of the words. my imagination flies, sometimes I am the Master and sometimes the prisoner, maybe even the woman….the secret of poetry is to trigger emotions, where a common chord is struck and you realise that you are not alone, that others feel your pain or your joy, that others have been before and others will follow. Each time you return to the song it calls up the same emotions, it builds on itself, that is its uniqueness, the more you hear the words the more they seem perfectly right. I can remember at school trying to analyse Poetry, and destroying it in the process. I now write poetry, and its creation is just as much a mystery for the writer as for the reader. There is very little conscious thought involved, you just surrender yourself to the mood and the words come. I am sure there is an awful lot of revision in Leonard’s words, as in mine. But the revision involves re-reading time and time again, changing a word here, a metre there, a rhythm amended occasionally. But the essence of the words remains the same. Poetry may well have been the earliest human artistic endeavour, possibly spoken over fires late at night….just as most of us now listen to Leonard or Joni or Dylan these days.