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Leonard Cohen’s Holy Dove

In response to:

The 'Stoned Gallantry' of Leonard Cohen from the February 21, 2013 issue

To the Editors:

There are many things I might quarrel with—and some I would applaud—in Dan Chiasson’s essay on Leonard Cohen [“The ‘Stoned Gallantry’ of Leonard Cohen,” NYR, February 21]. But just to stick to the opening section for now, the “most famous lyrics” of “his most famous song,” as the article calls them, speak not of the “holy dark” but the “holy dove.”

Cohen is more than capable of singing about the “holy dark,” no doubt, but the dove is a recurrent and central image in his work, not least because he once called his supporting band “The Army.” Perhaps a poet who’s been publishing for forty-seven years deserves a slightly closer reading?

Pico Iyer
Nara, Japan

Dan Chiasson replies:

I’d misheard those lyrics for years, it seems. I’m grateful to Pico Iyer for so many things he’s written; now I owe him thanks for this important correction.

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