Posts Tagged ‘A Light in the Attic’


The Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen. McClelland & Stewart, 2006.
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. Harper & Row, 1981.

I thought before April ends I should include some poetry in recognition of National Poetry Month. So here are two: something old, something new, something happy, something blue. The new, or newish and bluish, is Leonard Cohen’s latest book of poetry. I have to confess that I know Cohen mostly from his songs. He has recently been enjoying a bit of a revival, with covers of Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley both popular. I always liked Suzanne and Dance Me to the End of Love, myself. Before reading the book, I read Kathleen Molloy’s review. She read the book in one sitting, with a glass of port. This seemed like a good idea. Lacking port, I went for a very nice locally-produced strawberry wine by Countryman’s Estate Winery. Certainly, the book, like its title, is sad and melancolic. The longing is for a younger life and a time of women loved. Nightingale encapsulates this idea quite sweetly. It begins:

I built my house beside the wood
So I could hear you singing
And it was sweet and it was good
And love was all beginning.

and finishes

Fare thee well my nightingale
I lived but to be near you
Though you are singing somewhere still
I can no longer hear you.

Well. It is a book for those who have lost the first blush of youth… and then some. In contrast, Silverstein’s book is for the young and young at heart. If you haven’t read any Shel Sivlerstein, you should. A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends both need reading. These poems are fun to share with a youngster. Or just enjoy them yourself. The title poem, A Light in the Attic, goes like this:

There’s a light on in the attic,
Though the house is dark and shuttered,
I can see a flickerin’ flutter,
And I know what it’s about.
There’s a light on in the attic,
I can see it from the outside,
And I know you’re on the inside…lookin’ out.

April 21st was National Al Purdy Day. For more on Purdy, see the March 2nd entry.


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