An analysis of Leonard Cohen's lyrical poem "Light as the Breeze" leads the reader towards the idea of many religious and literary traditions. In particular, the poem combines images of spiritual devotion and sexual passion, leading to the portrayal of the feminine as divine. The subject may or may not believe that the beloved is a goddess, but his devotion to her is comparable to the experience of a believer worshiping his deity. Cohen uses many religious images from Jewish, Christian, and Pagan traditions and incorporates them into a poem reminiscent of a twelfth-century troubadour canzone-a lyric poem set to music and written in Provencal or early Italian.
The first stanza can be read metaphorically or literally; the woman can be a symbol of an image or literally be in front of the subject, as in the line "She stands before you naked". Either way the vision is intense because the author goes on saying "you can see it, you can taste it". The reader is given a choice of how to absorb the vision-slowly or immersing oneself in it. "You can drink it or you can nurse it / it don't matter how you worship / as long as you're / down on your knees". The woman can be represented as either religious or erotic; she can be worshiped or gazed upon.
Get your grade
or your money back
using our Essay Writing Service!
In the second stanza the speaker insists on the woman being seen as a spiritual presence: "like a blessing come from heaven", heavenly blessings can only be spiritual, not human or pertaining to human characteristics. The subject "knelt there at the delta" because the delta is the temple of the deity, the Alpha and the Omega. The delta is the Greek symbol of a triangle which can also be symbolic of the female genitalia. In medical terminology, deltoid refers to a large triangular muscle and vulva means external female genitalia, the mouth of the womb and the source of human life. The womb is considered to be sacred both to pagans and Judeo-Christians. Alpha and Omega represents God, both the beginning and the end, having parallels with the delta, or female genitalia; it creates life, which one day will come to an end.
In the line "I waited so long for your kiss", the kiss is seen as a "cure" from the goddess/woman. A kiss is what is needed to relieve the speaker's suffering. Unfortunately the cure would only last a second, and after it has been given it would be assumed that he would want more. The image of "the wind going wild", represents the goddess-woman as "light as a breeze". This image separates her from the worshiper, showing independence. The keys represent freedom from imprisonment for the worshiper. With the key he could be released from the harness (or obstacle) that the goddess-woman has him bound with. In the line "And it's not exactly prison, but you'll never be forgiven", the worshiper does not mind the imprisonment but he is upset that the key is gone because he does not want to be imprisoned for life. In any case, it is clear that because of an obstacle he has chosen not to remove, he cannot go to her.
Again reverting to first person, the speaker says, "it's dark now and it's snowing", thus describing the weather and landscape of a cold winter's night. This stanza display's images of winter, night and the freezing river, which evokes the idea of death. The worshiper is obviously broken and realises he has wasted his time on his knees worshipping the goddess. For all his efforts, the goddess rewards him with coldness and distance. When the worshiper says, "I'm sick of pretending", he insinuates that he is tired of pretending not to resent the goddess. At this point he seems ready to abandon his love.
The worshiper's emotions are described: "you turn in disgust from your hatred and your love". His beloved is inaccessible, but she is beautiful; both of these characteristics influence the speaker's hatred and love for her; it's a love-hate relationship. Not only is he bitter, but he is starting to realize the truth-"and she's naked but that's just a tease". She is naked but it's just to seduce him visually and not do anything physically
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
"There's blood on every bracelet", refers to an ancient goddess. Goddess wore bracelets. Furthermore, the blood on the bracelet could be seen in a metaphorical sense as the sacrificial blood of Christ, who died for humanity. Christ died for humanity's sins, so his blood represents a sacrifice to save humanity from the mistakes that they have chosen to make. The line "drink deeply" refers to the Christian communion, in which Christians take part in breaking the body and drinking the blood of Christ (bread and non-alcoholic wine) thus asking for forgiveness for their sins to this day. Like Christ, the goddess is seen as both human and divine. Perhaps she is only divine in the eyes of the worshiper.
The line "Please baby, please baby, please" shows the subject begging for the goddess; the last resort is to beg. It is not enough that she shower him with blessings; she must sacrifice herself because anything less would not demonstrate a great enough love. Much like Christ; if the goddess does not suffer, the worshiper cannot be saved. This idea is parallel with that of Christianity.
The last stanza is much like the second stanza; the only difference is that in the last one he professes his faith. The speaker suggests his false faith by saying, "I knelt there like one who believes"; he does not worship because he believes, he worships like one who does believe. The repeated line from the second stanza represents the worshiper's experience coming to a full circle. He again "knelt there at the delta / at the alpha and omega", once again waiting for that "cure", the single kiss. This is a sign of entrapment; he is consumed by a vicious cycle and cannot escape. As in the Christian faith, sin is an entrapment that will lead to the ultimate death of spirituality. This is represented by the wind, spiritually destroying the worshiper by a cyclical tease-an entrapment.
Dorman, Lorrane and Clive Rawlins.Â Leonard Cohen: Prophet of the Heart.
Â Â Â Â London: Omnibus, 1991.
leonardcohenfiles.com. Leonard Cohen. 1997. Web. 23 Jan. 2010.
Ruhlmann, William.Â "The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen." Goldmine: The
Â Â Â Â Collector's Record & Compact Disc Marketplace 19.4 (February 19, 1993):
Â Â Â Â 10-20, 56.