Leonard Cohen: Amen Meaning
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when I’ve been to the river
and I’ve taken the edge off my thirst
tell me again
we’re alone and I’m listening
I’m listening so hard that it hurts
tell me again
when I’m clean and I’m sober
tell me again
when I’ve seen...
amen as a metaphor for the holocaust
by identify » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:47 pm
I believe that the lyrics of "Amen" powerfully express Cohen's use of metaphor for the Holocaust. A few of the expressions which in context lead me to this conclusion are:
I've seen through the horror (the holocaust in Europe and genocides elsewhere)
when the victims are singing (following repentance of perpetrators)
laws of remorse are restored (which allows for repentance and restoration of humane values)
you know what I'm thinking, (A victim will think harshly and vindictively)
but vengeance belongs to the Lord (in the Biblical sense ..i.e., sermon on the mount)
filth of the butcher ( Hitler, etc.)
is washed in the blood of the lamb (the lamb as symbol of peace and love)
day has been ransomed (humans have sold out to the butchers)
and the night has no right to begin (not until purging of evil with accompanying repentance)
When the angels are panting
and scratching at the door to come in (the angels, eager to resume their functions of love and benevolence,
only when the metamorphosis from evil to good through repentance has been attained.
when the rest of the culture (civilization)
has passed through the eye of the camp ( has recognized (eye) the brutality of concentration camps)
Leonard repeats the expression "when I'm clean and II'm sober" in each stanza....I take this to mean that the only way he can cope with the "horror" is with
alcohol and hard drug use. But, he will confront the "horror" when he is clean and sober and delineates the route of contrition.
I am still undecided about the expressions "tell me that you, want..love...need..love me then. To whom is he addressing these requests? I initially felt that he was in a dialogue with a "deity".......but, from his religious upbringing and his broader education, he certainly would not attribute want and need to a Supreme Being. Rather, I believe he is pouring out his feelings to a collective female or one female...therefore, the use of the word "then"..because the sober Cohen is a great deal removed from the fun-loving Cohen "in closing time"
I'm not a very religious person, but I am Spiritual and compassionate. In this song, I think it is a beautiful prayer of desperation--a duel prayer to God. The writer sees the pain in the world--the war, the molestations, the hate. He's addicted to alcohol to ease the pain--"I've been to the river to take the edge off my thirst."
"We're alone now, and I'm listening"--he wants to believe. He wants to believe that God will take away the pain and horror of the world, and hence, his personal pain. He wants God's love for himself and for the "children" of the world. amen.
When victims are no longer slaughtered, and the murderers feel Remorse. When he no longer needs to feel vengeful at the horror, then tell me that You love me and that You want me to spread Your love.
When I've wasted the day in drink, and I'm desperate for salvation. When Jesus has returned for judgement, and it's the end of days, then tell me again that you love me. amen
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