Leonard Cohen

HOMAGE TO ROSENGARTEN

If you have a wall, a bare wall in your house

All the walls in my house are bare

And I love the bare walls

The only thing I would put up

On one of my beloved bare walls

Not beloved

It doesn't need beloved

It doesn't need an adjective

The wall is fine as it is

But I would put up a Rosengarten

A Rosengarten produced with a wooden

Comb and black ink

Going nowhere forever in a swirl of indelible parallel curves

Is it a letter of a woman?

It is another perfect startling black letter in a word

Among hundreds of words

In a continuing Rosengarten epic that celebrates

mankind's holy and relentless desire for itself

Your heart is the same as the white paper

Upon which the woman is so carefully splashed

Both need her in order to become significant

If you had a vast white wall

And if you hung hundreds of his commanding women in a row

You would not have to study the calligraphy

For very long

To understand and to forgive yourself

 

For falling in love so often

And for championing our mysterious and radiant race

And it would silence whatever foolish argument

About beauty

You had been tricked into embracing

And it is the same with a piece of furniture

I have one or two wooden tables

That I bought for a song long ago

I've polished them for years

And I don't want anything on them

Except elbows a plate and a glass

But I have a Rosengarten on one of them

Because a Rosengarten celebrates the wood it stands on

Because it is made with the same mind

That made the table a hundred years ago

The mind of honour and skill and modesty

That patiently manifests an artifact

Of unutterable usefulness

You would have to live with a Rosengarten

To know how useful it is

As useful as a table or a wall

To serve your helplessness

To locate your 'wrecked life' in a room

You have forgotten to explore

Just as there is no extra word in a great poem

In a Rosengarten

There is no extra volume

 

There is no gesture, no conceit, no winking eye

Soliciting a compliment

It is as it is

Respectful of the tradition from which it arises

But independent of it too

It stands there surrounded by the room

Establishing second after second

New alarming original friendships with the air and the light

Which the room so deeply needs

To irrigate and refresh your struggle

And if you have a garden or an acre

And you want it to flourish

Place a number of Rosengartens here and there

His great commanding Asheras

The streamlined female presence

Which men and women sought and worshipped

In the 'high places' of the Bible

And still do today

As we walk hand in hand

Through the bewildering and shabby insignificance

Of our official corrected public and private daily lives

And here She is:

Fully born from herself

Urgent and accommodating

A thrust of polished energy that does not cut the air

But softens it and ignites it softly

 

Offered up on a simple stone staircase

Which in itself is a masterpiece of escalating harmony

Offered to the mystery of beauty

Which no one dare explain

Offered up for the secret reasons

Which are known to all

Offered up in the usual conditions of distress

And the deep inner certainty of perfection

And now your garden

Does not need reminding

 

  - Leonard Cohen