What does So Long, Marianne mean?

Leonard Cohen: So Long, Marianne Meaning

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Album cover for So Long, Marianne album cover

Song Released: 1971


So Long, Marianne Lyrics

Come over to the window, my little darling,
I'd like to try to read your palm.
I used to think I was some kind of Gypsy boy
before I let you take me home.

Now so long, Marianne, it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it...

  1. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 8th 2015 !⃝

    Breaking up with Marianne Faithful.....a long time lover.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 26th 2011 !⃝

    The song begins in the conventional, love song style - The lover saying to his beloved: "Come over to the window, my little darling." He wants to read her palm. Reading the palm, is an excuse to hold her hands. It is also reading her destiny, her future, and along with it, his future.
    The first indication of what happened between them comes in the next line:
    "I used to think I was some kind of a Gypsy boy
    Before I let you take me home." The masculine difficulty to "settle down" is expressed here. The refrain which follows clearly indicates the lovers have gone through a lot of ups and downs. They have met again, after a long parting. Both of them lots of compalints and memories. It is time to forive, forget and at the same time, to cry...but, also to laugh.
    The next stanza speaks about the first time them met and Marianne's reaction and what she expected from him. She held onto him like a crucifix - a holy, sacred thing. This attitude is very differnt from the Gypsy boy's attitude - of wander lust, experimentation and curiosity.They were both "kneeling through the dark." That is, they have both passed through many difficult times, together.
    The reference to Marianne's letters "whcih say that she is beside" him now clearly indicates they are not together anymore. The gypsy boy has also realized how lonely he is, without her.
    the next lines, I feel,are some of the most beautiful lines about love:
    "I am standing on a ledge
    and your fine spiderweb
    is fastening my ankle to stone."
    He is on a ledge - a place he can jump off, or turn off...a place which can change his life, for worse, mostly...but, perhaps, also for the better. And what is stopping him from taking that step - probably, a step into madness, depression, suicide or even a new relationship - is her find spiderweb - her words that she writes to him, perhaps...or the tender thing that she weaves with her love, which catches him like a fly - and makes his step turn to stone.
    Towards the end we realize that Marianne did not wait for him endlessly. she has gone and changed her name again...yet, both of them cannot forget each other. And her "hidden love" for him continues.


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