Queen Victoria and Leonard

leonard_cohenI am reading quite a bit of Leonard Cohen’s poetry at the moment, because once I latch onto something I can’t let it go, and the night I managed to slip into his show last month was one of the most magical of my life.  I read it in bed and get all maudlin, so maybe isn’t that healthy.  But!

This is my favourite Leonard Cohen poem (taken from Flowers for Hitler of 1964):

Queen Victoria and Me

Queen Victoria
my father and all his tobacco loved you
I love you too in all your forms
the slim unlovely virgin anyone would lay
the white figure floating among German beards
the mean governess of the huge pink maps
the solitary mourner of a prince

Queen Victoria
I am cold and rainy
I am dirty as a glass roof in a train station
I feel like an empty cast-iron exhibition
I want ornaments on everything
because my love she gone with other boys

Queen Victoria
do you have a punishment under the white lace
will you be short with her
and make her read little Bibles
will you spank her with a mechanical corset
I want her pure as power
I want her skin slightly musty with petticoats
will you wash the easy bidets out of her head

Queen Victoria
I’m not much nourished by modern love
Will you come into my life
with your sorrow and your black carriages
and your perfect memory

Queen Victoria
The 20th century belongs to you and me
Let us be two severe giants
(not less lonely for our partnership)
who discolour test tubes in the halls of science
who turn up unwelcome at every World’s Fair

heavy with proverb and correction
confusing the star-dazed tourists
with our incomparable sense of loss

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February 22, 2009. Uncategorized.

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