Leonard Cohen: Alexandra Leaving Meaning
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Alexandra Leaving Lyrics
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.
Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous Jun 5th 2011 report
'Alexandra Leaving' is an interpretation of the poem The God Abandons Antony by Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy;
Cohen freely adapted the poem for his song "Alexandra Leaving" (Ten New Songs, 2001 Whereas Cavafy's theme was based around the city of Alexandria, Cohen's version builds around a woman named Alexandra.
A man’s lover is about to leave him, and he senses this. In his imagination (which Cohen beautifully makes real) the man both sees his lover in bed and sees her being carried off by the god of love. Her love for the man is dying, but she’s not leaving him by an intentional choice – rather, her emotions are carrying her away from him, and this is signified by the god of love bearing her away. The “sentries of [her] heart” are unable to hold her back. And she may feel joy at the prospect of being freed from this love.
The man is not dreaming when he sees this. She is still physically with him, although emotionally she is nearly gone. The man anticipated that this would happen, and he has been told (tells himself) to embrace the reality even as he grieves it. What are his “first commitments” that are now made “tangible again”? Perhaps those to a wife and child, which he has let slip during the course of this affair. it is time to return to those realities.
He may feel guilty and dishonored by having chosen to have this affair. But his lover’s grace and perhaps elegance during their evenings together has helped to relieve these feelings. The intensity of his feelings for his lover has unmoored (bewildered) him; it has led him to break his code of morality and possibly of religion (“crucifix uncrossed”). It is time for him to accept his loss, and the wreckage of the plans he may have made for this relationship.
anonymous Oct 25th report
Alexandra leaving is about his daughter growing up and getting married. Early in life he was her hero. He thought he was prepared one day she would grow up and marry. He didnt make the wedding and for a great while she couldnt forgive him. He missed the wedding and didnt walk her down the aisle. She was now a woman in romantic love. The wedding Alexandra leaving with her Lord. She divorced and I believe he lived with her and the grandkids for awhile temporarily restored the father daughter love.
anonymous Dec 13th 2021 report
The fact that there are so many different interpretations of this lyric would suggest that the elliptical slant of the song doesn't quite work, as it leads to bafflement. We know it's about lost love, and the fact that it conjures up all sorts of possible meanings is a failure, of sorts. Yet, like The Wasteland by Eliot, it holds deep appeal because of the mystery it evokes. But lots of Symbolist poetry is like this puzzle. But be warned, Eliot ended up admitting that he didn't quite know what his Wasteland was about. And I suspect that neither did Cohen quite know what Alexandra Leaving was about either, apart from the elaborate maze of loss that baffles us all.
Alexandra, the Devine feminine, the maiden, the mother, the crone, her aspects are limitless and her presence, her departure, her condition of being lost are all deep allegories of the longing and desire for connection, acceptance of loss, the inability to say goodbye.
Cohen always presents us with the choice, and here he gives us Alexandra leaving or Alexandra lost. That which is leaving can always return, that which is lost can always be found. He softens the blow of hardened facts by offering us the illusion of redemption. Leaving/returning, lost/found, the sacred dance always contains the turning, the active and the passive interpretations of life's greatest challenges and he sweetens it all with reference to great and epic love.
Part of his great genius was always to allow the grace to explore the great questions by appealing to our sense of romance and dignity. He held our hand while exploring the vast unknown, made it sexy, made it sweet.
That's why we love him so.
anonymous May 11th 2020 report
Cavafy's poem was about Alexandria, the city. Antony and Cleopatra had been in love and in power for a good many years, but Octavia, adopted son of Julius Caesar, was looking to consolidate his power. (He murdered Cleopara's son by Julius Caesar and rightful heir to the title of emperor). The next morning Antony and Cleopatrad would commit suicide. Some serious leaving.
Cohen used the poem to create this exquisite love song,
anonymous Apr 6th 2019 report
For me this is an incredibly profound text, with so many allusions which most above have not understood. The art of allusions is in full explosion here.
It´s not about dead, she is not coming back, she doesn´t know yet that she will be leaving, that he doesn´t love her anymore. The sad song is about love that faded away (the God of love has departed), that he realise now that there is no love anymore (the night has grown colder). He has been prepared to come to this conclusion for a while, but the relationship lingers on due to the simplicity of pleasure. Yes, she sleeps on your satin and give you a kiss with exiquisite music and laughting. But the truth is that love slip between the sentries of the heart, the morning will exhaust, and Alexandra will be leaving. Say goodbye to the lost love, the lost dreams, let the truth come through. Indeed, very sad, but the god of love has departed, and hence Alexandra is leaving.
anonymous Feb 7th 2019 report
anonymous Aug 24th 2018 report
Way too deep for me, butfor one part................'say goodbye to alexandra leaving' = say goodbye to the woman, in person AND to the act of her departure
then: 'Say goodbye to alexandra lost' = get over it! SAy goodbye to the reality of her no longer being part of your life, say goodbye to those feelings of abandonment and betrayal
anonymous May 5th 2018 report
It is a repurposing of the poem "The God Abandons Antony" to talk about his daughter leaving his house with her lover. "Your first commitment, tangible again"; "in full command of every plan you wrecked", "hiding behind cause and effect"; "even though she sleeps upon your satin" (daughter coming home for a visit), etc.
anonymous Dec 12th 2017 report
Theo honour of knowing and loved someone that no lingerie loved you back,it's a fantastic regret love song
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Aug 11th 2015 report
For me it means a beloved partner has died and gone to live with their lord. Must accept and not pretend they are not really gone, may grieve but has to accept reality, but in a gentle interpretation.
anonymous Dec 22nd 2012 report
A person who has died and is being taken to heaven by one of God's angels.
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