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Jeremy Radin (he/him/his) reads the poem “I Should Not Say You” by Leonard Cohen.

Jeremy Radin:

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My name is Jeremy Radin. I'm going to be reading a poem by Leonard Cohen today.

The poem is called "I Should Not Say You." Leonard Cohen is a super important poet to me and my development as a poet. I had kind of given up on the idea of poetry for a little bit, and then I walked into a bookstore and I found one his books called Book of Longing. And I read it, and it redelivered me into poetry, and made me go like, "Oh yes, this is what I want to do with my life." The poem I'm gonna read is from a book which I think is out of print called Death of a Lady's Man.

It is my favorite Leonard Cohen poem and maybe my favorite poem of all time. Hard to say, but this one makes a strong case. And I'm excited to read it for you.

I should not say you. I should say O. Now I see why they said, the Name.

I crumble before the Name. My heart is stubborn before the Name. Give my heart ease in the presence of the Name.

My heart is like something that waits. My heart longs to be a chamber for the Name. I am ignorant.

I don't know how to make a place for the Name. I lose the Name in my thrust of greed. I lose it in my mind.

This heart is dead. This heart hoards its death. It will not make a place for the Name.

Fill me with the Name O most high. I swim in your love but I drown in loneliness. End my waiting.

Allow me the Name. Protect me in the terror of your absent Name. Not by oracles.

Not by the Bible. Not by ghosts. Not by spirits seen in a magic lens.

Not in shadows. Not in braided manes. Not by appearance in the air.

Not by the stars at birth. Not by meteors. Not by winds.

Not by sacrificial appearances. Not by the entrails of animals sacrificed. Not by the entrails of a human sacrifice.

Not by the entrails of fishes. Not by sacrificial fire. Not by red-hot iron.

Not by clamp. Not by muzzle. Not by smoke from the altar.

Not by the counting of petals. Not by the signal of wings. Not by mice.

Not by birds. Not by a cock picking up grains. Not by the layers of the mountain.

Not by the strength of the moon. Not by herbs. Not by water.

Not by fountains. Not by a wand. Not by dough of cakes.

Not by the falling of sticks. Not by meal. Not by salt.

Not by dice. Not by ladders. Not by the flight of an arrow.

Not by a balanced hatchet. Not by a suspended ring. Not by a stone on a thread.

Not by pebbles drawn from a heap. Not by mirrors. Not by writings in ashes.

Not by a change of kings. Not by dreams. Not by the lines of the hands.

Not by nails reflecting the sun's rays. Not by numbers. Not by drawing lots.

Not by passages in books. Not by the letters forming the name of a person. Not by features.

Not by the mode of laughing. Not by the pattern of snakes. Not by walking in a circle.

Not by drawing a circle. Not by the rings on the finger. Not by dropping melted wax in water.

Not by clouds. Not by currents. Without the Name the wind is a babble, the flowers are a jargon of longing.

Without the Name I am a funeral in the garden. Waiting for the next girl. Waiting for the next prize.

Without the Name sealed in my heart I am ashamed. It is not sealed. I am ashamed.

Without the Name I bear false witness to the glory. Then I am this false witness. Then let me continue.