“When You Were Young” - W.B. Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
A Love Letter from Leonard Cohen
You’re going to leave me. I know you’re going to leave me. Like you left Laporte. Like you left Arif. I’ll be someone you call by his last name. Laporte didn’t look too good tonight at the Alhambra when he limped over to say hello to you. He didn’t want to give me his hand because it was so wet. He took the tips of my fingers and he smiled cheerlessly, as if to say: The greatest fuck you’ve ever had, the deepest love you’ve ever known, and she’s going to leave you very soon, you poor stunned sonovabitch. In the car you told me that his hands always get that wet when he has to meet people. You know his terrors, don’t you? As you know mine. We haven’t seen too much from Laporte lately, film-maker of a certain period, when you were his juice, when he was allowed to tie you up, and you commanded him to treat you like a slave. Then you told me to look at the moon, so I looked through the windshield at the moon. Then you told me to be impressed by the colour of the sky, so I applied myself to a study of the royal blue Paris sky. The turbaned Sikh assigned you, as he always does, the most impossible space in the garage, and when we walked past his window, he said, as he always does, The Champion of Parking. In the room you did sail so sweetly into my arms. I’m yours. For tonight. Your big joke. And my heart still leaps up between the declaration and the punchline. Like you left Laporte. Like you left Arif, and then slept with his twin brother. I leave them just before they leave me. It’s better that way, no? Not to have a crying girl on your hands. Okay, darling, you’re sleeping, the night has come to an end, and I’m nervous as hell. You’ll either read this by yourself one day, or we’ll be reading it together.
Extracted from Four Letter Word: New Love Letters, edited by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter, published by Chatto & Windus on November 1, 2007 at £12.99. Editors © Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter 2007 Individual contributors © 2007