Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lovely as a Pendulum

Flipping through The Spice-Box of Earth, I just noticed Leonard Cohen's "The Girl Toy". Its theme is reminiscent of E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Sandman", about a beautiful automaton. Two lines struck me immediately:

where now the weeds involved the trees

which is the image of an untended garden, and

she lovely as a pendulum,

which is the image of a beautiful girl, offered in contrast to "he obese and old", which precedes it. I suspect that the second of these was the first line Cohen wrote. He wrote the poem, I want to say, in order to use that line. One knows women who are lovely as pendulums but one cannot use that image without explaining it. Cohen gives us a metaphor: a girl made by a clockmaker who has "learned to work in flesh".

Let the weeds involve the trees, I say; my girl is lovely as a pendulum. [She is a clockwork made of flesh.] I think we here have a poem that has made it possible to say such things. And that, after all, is what poems are for.

1 comment:

Kirby Olson said...