Leonard Cohen Talks About The Meaning Of “My Dick Is The Horse And My Life Is The Cart” & Why He Rewrote Those Lines

Stina Lundberg: In the Book of Longing there is a long poem, and I probably don’t remember the lines right, but it is something like “My dick is the horse and my life is the chart…”

Leonard Cohen: Is the cart.

Stina Lundberg: Is the cart, sorry.

Leonard Cohen: Yeah, very vulgar line, I wish I hadn’t written it. In fact I changed it.

Stina Lundberg: To what?

Leonard Cohen: I don’t remember… what I changed it to now, because, er… I had a growing sense of dissatisfaction with that poem. I must remove it from the site (chuckles) or at least it needs more work. It came out of a time when I’d just come down from Mount Baldy and I was writing very, very quickly and with a great sense of, a kind of wild sense of freedom from the schedule, and I was blackening a lot of pages and sending them off to the website, and that’s one I have to look at.

Stina Lundberg: Why? It’s very direct.

Leonard Cohen: It’s very direct but I think the language – it could be… it could be as direct… a little bit more musical. Try for a different music.

Stina Lundberg: But what did it mean? What is the content?

Leonard Cohen: I think the content is that, you know, that’s where a man’s brain is. And you know, when I watch the young, as I do because I have two young – they’re not children, they’re young adults – I remember going to a party that my son invited me to, and I sat there just thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t 25, because I saw this… the level of suffering at one of these events was overwhelming, you know, the mutual displays of attraction, the effort that had gone into each personal presentation, the expectations, the disappointments… it seemed to be one of the circles of hell that I was pleased not to be in.


From 2001 Leonard Cohen interview with Stina Lundberg.

DrHGuy Note:

The verse to which Stina refers follows:

I followed the course
from chaos to art
My dick was the horse
my life was the cart

Accessed at Book Of Longing – LeonardCohenFiles

In the Book Of Longing published in 2006, that verse reads

I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart

On the other hand, Leonard also wrote

If only my genitals didn’t float
When I relaxed in the bath
And we both looked down and we both agreed
It’s stupid to be a man

From The Good Fight by Leonard Cohen, published in Stranger Music (1993)

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted May 12, 2010 at DrHGuy.com.

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