“We all have to talk about something” — Leonard Cohen invokes William Faulkner’s invocation of John Keats

How do you feel about the fact that your work has now become curriculum at literature courses all over the world?

 

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… At the beginning of my first book of poems [Let Us Compare Mythologies], I used a quotation from a short story by William Faulkner:

“All right” he said. “Listen and read again, but only one stanza this time and closed the book and laid it on the table. “She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss” McCaslin said: “Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair.” “He’s talking about a girl,” he said. “He had to talk about something,” McCaslin said.

That’s from The Bear by William Faulkner. We all have to talk about something.1

 

Leonard Cohen

 

DrHGuy Note: A more extensive quote from the colloquy between Ike and McCaslin in The Bear by William Faulkner may be helpful:

McCaslin . . . returned with the book and sat down again and opened it. “Listen,” he said. He read the five stanzas aloud and closed the book on his finger and looked up. “All right,” he said. “Listen,” and read again, but only one stanza this time and closed the book and laid it on the table. “She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss,” McCaslin said: “Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair.”

“He’s talking about a girl,” he said.

“He had to talk about something,” McCaslin said.

Then he said, “He was talking about truth. Truth is one. It doesn’t change. It covers all things which touch the heart–honor and pity and pride and justice and courage and love. Do you see now?”

The lines McCaslin reads, “She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,/ For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!” are, of course, from Ode On A Grecian Urn by John Keats.

The Leonard Cohen Reading List

The Bear by William Faulkner is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books admired by the Canadian singer-songwriter.

All entries in the Leonard Cohen Reading List can be found at

The Original Leonard Cohen Reading List

 

Credit Due Department: William Faulkner photo by GPA Photo Archive

 

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 Dec 30, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

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  1. From Oct 16, 2001 Online Chat []

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