“[By The Rivers Dark] Is About Reconciliation Between The Profane And The Sacred.” Leonard Cohen + Recording

[By The Rivers Dark] is a reference to the Book of Psalms (Psalm 137): the children of Israel are in exile, their captors asked them to sing, but they refuse because they can not celebrate sacred songs in a foreign land. In the Psalm it is said: ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my arm fall, my tongue cleave to my palate.’ I got this idea of applying Jerusalem to Babylon. This song is about reconciliation between the profane and the sacred.1


Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen – By The Rivers Dark
From Ten New Songs

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 Mar 2, 2017.


  1. Je Ne Suis Qu’un Poete Mineur [I’m Just A Minor Poet] by Gilles Medioni, L’Express (France): October 4, 2001 [translated from French] []

Leave a Reply