The Idea of Love Illustrated in Leonard Cohen's, Suzanne Essay

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Leonard Cohen’s life has been a bohemian enigma of a ravenous lover, the “poet laureate of pessimism” who is not afraid to color the world with reality and present his painting as it is: naked and true (Nadel 1). The depth of his voice accompanying his “music to slit your wrists by” makes his unbearable charm of a Byronic hero all the more appealing (Nadel 1). And what is it that heroes always lament about? A fair lady.

Cohen’s Suzanne, a muse for dozens of Beat poets, but for none more special than for him, has been immortalized in his poem which bears her name. While Cohen was in Montreal, he came in contact with Suzanne Verdal, a beautiful, young bohemian spirited dancer and wife of a sculptor, Armand Vaillancourt. In an interview
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Her rebellious, hippie way of life is also commented on in the phrase “you can spend the night beside her,” not necessarily stressing out the idea of free love and more than frequent exchange of partners in a constant search for love and fulfillment, but the notion of sleeping next to a person who will “feed you tea and oranges/that come all the way from China” (Cohen 95). The fact that she is “half crazy” does not diminish her worth, quite the contrary, she is all the more precious in the eyes of her guest because of it. Verdal herself says that “the half crazy could pertain to sadness” due to her recent separation from her husband at the time. Madness is sometimes just melancholy in disguise, and Cohen was more than aware of it. Her tea that comes all the way from China offers new and exciting outlooks on life, exotic promises of freedom and love “in small moments of magic” (Nadel 125).

Her motherly conduct offers compassion and attention a man wishes to receive from a woman (Nadel 125). And though the poet cannot give her love, for he is empty, clammed up in his own shell. The world around him has scarred him and he takes no one’s hand but hers. She does not let him speak, nor does she. The nature in the guise of the river, answers how “you’ve always been her lover/and you want to travel with her/and you want

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