A Rondeau for Leonard Cohen

You chant again the telling charm

You chant again the telling charm

King David is the archetypal sacred singer, the psalmist in whom and through whom every passion can be lifted into poetry, and lifted through that poetry to God. His psalms sound Praise and Lament together, the wounds and glories of Eros and the wounds and glories of  Agape. It has often seemed to me that Leonard Cohen was a latter day David, as he too addressed the Lord and said

‘From this broken hill,

all your praises they shall ring

if it be your will

to let me sing.

Today I composed this poem about his passing in the mediaeval Rondeau form. The Rondeau is also the form used in the poem In Flanders Field and it seems a fitting form for this occasion. As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the play button

A Rondeau for Leonard Cohen


Like David’s psalm you named our pain,

And left us. But the songs remain

To search our wounds and bring us balm,

Till every song becomes a psalm,

And your restraint is our refrain;


Between the stained-glass and the stain,

The dark heart and the open vein,

Between the heart-storm and the harm,

Like David’s psalm.


I see you by the windowpane,

Alive within your own domain,

The light is strong, the seas are calm,

You chant again the telling charm,

That names, and naming, heals our pain,

Like David’s psalm.


Filed under Music, Poems

14 responses to “A Rondeau for Leonard Cohen

  1. John Robert Lee

    Nice. Since he passed on I have been listening to his essential songs. And his videos are very good. As someone said, “a singer so literate, a writer so musical.”

  2. “And even though it all went wrong / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song / with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah” – something to aspire to!

  3. Deborah Smyth

    I miss this man – thank you, Malcolm for the remembrance….

  4. I love your take on Leonard Cohen. He sure has left a mark on the world Malcolm. ❤
    Diana xo

  5. Mary Wright

    Thank you so much for this Malcolm. Leonard Cohen’s writing has meant so much to me since I was in my teens.
    Your rondeau is beautiful.

  6. Gillian Riviere

    Beautiful, thank you Malcolm. I could hear him so clearly as you were reading.

  7. Very, very nice. The gentle rhymes, the edies of the deeps.

  8. Anne Boileau

    Anne Boileau
    I love your rondeau with its repeated but natural rhymes for Leonard Cohen. He was an accomplished poet and musician. I saw him perform in Munich in 1970 and have never forgotten it.

  9. Steve Sepulchre

    Thanks, Malcolm. David Psalm’s, as you wrote it, captures so many shades and colours of heartfelt emotions. It touched me deeply. Steve

  10. jennieG

    Thank you Malcolm, this is beautiul. x

  11. Monica Price

    Wonderful tribute. I, too, could hear him singing. Was lucky to attend several concerts. He has certainly left his mark on the world but how I do miss him.

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