Poetry Sunday repost: Democracy by Leonard Cohen

I was listening to Leonard Cohen's music on Saturday when my daughter reminded me that it had been exactly four years since we lost him. We lost a lot of things that year.

It seemed appropriate to me somehow that the anniversary of his death should come on the day that this year's messy, frustrating, seemingly interminable presidential election was called in favor of Joe Biden and so there was only one choice for me when I considered what I would post for Poetry Sunday. This is a repost from a little more than a year ago. The words seem even more prophetic today.

Sail on, sail on

O mighty Ship of State!

To the Shores of Need

Past the Reefs of Greed

Through the Squalls of Hate

Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

Most especially through the "squalls of hate. "


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Poetry Sunday: Democracy by Leonard Cohen

Offered without comment except to say I can only hope, because "I love the country but I can't stand the scene".


lyrics by Leonard Cohen 

It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.
It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.


  1. It seems fitting somehow that these words were written by a Canadian Jew, a proud son of Montreal, who had experienced discrimination himself, at the very time that a black/south Asian woman who spent several years in Montreal, is about to become the Vice-President of the United States.

  2. Democracy is such a tender concept needing constant care. We got another chance. We got some new openings. Let's hope the country does not squander these gifts.

  3. I love that song! He is/was so brilliant. Cheers

    1. Yes, he was. The world was diminished by his loss but thank goodness he left us with so much wonderful music.

  4. Leonard Cohen had a way with words. This is so powerfully written. I agree we've been given another chance - if we don't squander it. How ironic (and tragic) that it may have been COVID that granted us that chance. Besides healing and alleviating some of the reasons why such a man came to power to begin with, we also have to fix the holes in our system that such wannabe dictator used to almost wreck this country. Without us having majority in both houses, that fixing will be so much harder. And I will say also that Wannabee Jr. is the man who really scares me.

    1. There's a lot of work to be done, but there is no lack of brilliant and qualified and patriotic people willing to do it. I choose to be optimistic.

  5. His music is so beautiful. What a loss when he passed, but he left us with so much. His words are powerful. I know there is a long and tough road ahead of us, that it almost seems like we won't even know where to start, but we have been given this opportunity to show that trump was a fluke (though I would like to have a word with the additional seven million who voted for him this time compared to last - like, seriously? What about anything in the last four years made you look at trump and think, 'bang-up job, fantastic!' ? Idiots) and that we are better than that. We can do it, but everyone has to do there part, no time to rest.

    1. Exactly. Now we need to do everything we possibly can to help elect two Democratic senators from Georgia. That would be a good start.

    2. YES!! We need every last spot of attention on what is happening in Georgia. Without the Senate, Biden won't be able to get much done except through EO and we know those can just be undone by the next president, if they are not of like minds. So much to do, but we have to do it!


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