Canadian Culture · Canadian Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Poetry

Leonard Cohen

I thought shadows fell deceptively,
urging memories of perfect rhyme.
I thought I could bestow beauty
like a benediction and that your half-dark flesh
would answer to the prayer.
I thought I understood your face
because I had seen it painted twice
or a hundred times, or kissed it
when it was carved in stone. With only a breath, a vague turning,
you uncovered shadows
more deftly than I had flesh,
and the real and violent proportions of your body
made obsolete old treaties of excellence,
measures and poems,
and clamoured with a single challenge of personal beauty,
which cannot be interpreted or praised:
it must be met.

— Leonard Cohen, “When I Uncovered Your Body,” Spice-Box of Earth. (Viking Press 1961)

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