MY REDEEMER

I think of you all the time
But I can’t speak about you any more
I must love you secretly
I must come to you when I am alone
As I am now
And even now I must be careful
I want all the women
You created in your image
That is why I lower my eyes
When I pass them in the street
You can hear my prayer
The one I have no words for
The name that I cannot utter
I’m twisted with love
I’m burning with boredom
I hate my disguise
The mask of longing
But what can I do
Without my disguise
I wouldn’t be created
My Redeemer is a woman
Her picture is lost
We surrendered it
A hundred years ago
“Give us the Lady,” they said.
“It is too dangerous now
“to have her likeness on a wall.”
So I gave her away
And the language with her
The happy language
She invented for her name
And anyone who wants
To talk about her
Has to become like me
Humiliated and silent
Twisted with love
A specialist in boredom
And other childish matters

  — Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), Canadian poet, composer, author