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by Zettel 

Posted: 11 November 2016
Word Count: 118
Summary: A sad sad day

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We made joyous love to you
found solace in our silent tears
when others failed us you were true
the melody of our better years
You taught us all that sadness
is the counterpoint to joy
that passion outlives loneliness
and loss need not love of life alloy
Troubadour of the examined life
you lived and loved without pause
transformed experience into Art
still grounded through the world’s applause
Our human flaws and frailties
without rancour you explored
with wit and style life’s absurdities
our deeper faith in love restored
A voice of questioning and hope we mourn
with sadness that your journey’s done
you were a gift of timeless worth
never forgotten never really gone

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Comments by other Members

Jojovits1 at 21:28 on 11 November 2016  Report this post
A sad day indeed, Zettel.  This year has taken some of our best sad

James Graham at 20:40 on 12 November 2016  Report this post
This is an eloquent, and clearly very sincere, elegy. I’m sorry to raise this point, but I’m afraid I don’t know who the subject is. From clues in the poem it does seem to be a public person – an artist, a performer. I must have missed an item of news.


Zettel at 20:46 on 12 November 2016  Report this post
Leonard Cohen James

James Graham at 15:21 on 13 November 2016  Report this post
There’s such an animal as an ‘ignorant highbrow’. I’m afraid I’m one of those, well into classical from medieval to modernist, and jazz too, but only dimly aware of popular music. Most pop music is mediocre: a performer with a very limited voice is made commercially viable by means of studio technology. However, I’ve been not so dimly aware of Leonard Cohen, who was a true artist, a real singer with a warm, engaging baritone voice, and a highly intelligent, passionate writer of songs. Another artist in the same league, I think, is Bob Dylan.

From the little (too little) I’ve heard of Cohen’s work, I’d say your poem is a very apt tribute. Some lines seem to me to capture perfectly certain aspects of his work:
Troubadour of the examined life
A voice of questioning and hope

Other readers might choose other lines. One of Cohen’s songs caught my attention today as I read about him: ‘Democracy is coming to America’. A voice of hope, indeed!


Zettel at 01:27 on 14 November 2016  Report this post
Well James, for someone who isn't into popular music you unerringly picked out the 2 key names I think. I know Dylan's work very well over many years and would say that his ability to constantly innovate and re-invent himself and his music and lyrics makes him the most powerful 'voice' of a generation - mine.

I was not so familiar with Leonard Cohen but my wife is a great fan and so for a special celebration I took her to see him at the O2 aboout 4 years ago and was absolutely overwhelmed by the blend of wit, style, insight, deliciious irony and self-deprecation. Yet here was an artist with a palpable sense of commitment to his art which is rare.

The song you mention is a very good example: from the title, ironic in itself,  through the deeply ironic verses there is a kind of perverse hope that despite all...... As the last verse has it:

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.

Certainly New York and maybe the US as a whole have what it takes to survive even Trump - it just has to reciver the best of itself, it's better soul which paradoxically drives the anger, and the contempt for not living up to it best self that Trump and Bush et al represent.

Thanks for the comments


James Graham at 20:31 on 15 November 2016  Report this post
Yes, ‘Democracy is coming to America’ is highly original, and reassuring in its ironic way. I love this image especially:
I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay

He might have been thinking of the vast Staten Island landfill as a symbol of the amount of metaphorical garbage that comes out of America at times.

Trump may just be another backward step or two for the Americans. He’ll do well, so to speak, to be worse than Nixon and Kissinger with their grand project of putting Pinochet in place of democracy in Chile, and escalating the Vietnam war instead of ending it, as they could have done without much difficulty. I’m afraid we have to include Kennedy too, to some extent: the Bay of Pigs was a fiasco, but Kennedy had been encouraging Cuban exiles to take fleets of gunboats round the Cuban coast and shell factories and coastal towns. Thousands of Cubans died, and it has been argued that this was why Khrushchev planted a missile base there.

We’re supposed to discuss poetry here rather than politics and history, but it’s hard to resist. I look forward to your next poem - on any subject, personal or political.


Zettel at 00:11 on 16 November 2016  Report this post
Thanks James - always a pleasure.

I wonder whether either of us has a very impressive track record in doing 'what we're supposed to do'.

On the point you make I am reminded of a remark by Karl Popper - not necessarily my favourite Philosopher or indeed Scientist.

"On the whole it is better to moralize Politics than politicize Morals."

People thinking for themselves is our best defence against tyranny and poetry encourages that better than almost anything else: not becasue of its content for that can be everything from the profound to the banal; but because of its form(s) which resonate beyond mere analysis.



Zettel at 00:32 on 18 November 2016  Report this post

In the worrying uncertainties; or even more worrying apparent certainties of a Trump Presidency, the people of America have one major protection which  has stood them in good stead for over 350 years - the Constitution.  Whatever short term political dangers Trump represents,and they seem to be many - even he is not bigger than the Constitution and thanks to the prophetic genius of the men who drafted it - it will provide a powerful moral and political protection against the many abuses he has threatened.


If you want to see virtually every seriouos politcal issue raised but abused in the last  2 years of disreputable campaigning: watch the 7 series of The West Wing where genuine arguments between Republican and Democrat, through Gun  Laws, Supreme Court, Bi-partisanship (or lack of), abortion, gay rights, women's equality, immigration; Israel/Palestine, leadership, spin etc etc etc.

Certainly for me, easily the best Political drama ever made; and probably all round, the best written, best made Television series ever. Sane, articulate, insightful and yes just a bit Idealistic - but convincingly so and at present a little bit of sane, articulate, authoritative idealism would not go amiss compared with the tawdry disgraceful charades that were both the US Presidential election and our own Brexit Referendum campaigns



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