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Cohen, Leonard - By the Rivers Dark

Identifier

010900

Type of spiritual experience

Background

from observation 000859 - he always wins you know

Francis Thompson – The Hound of Heaven

 I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot precipitated
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after
And with unhurrying chase,
And unperterbed pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy
They beat – and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet –
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest me’

A description of the experience

"By The Rivers Dark"

By the rivers dark
I wandered on.
I lived my life
in Babylon.

And I did forget
My holy song:
And I had no strength
In Babylon.

By the rivers dark
Where I could not see
Who was waiting there
Who was hunting me.

And he cut my lip
And he cut my heart.
So I could not drink
From the river dark.

And he covered me,
And I saw within,
My lawless heart
And my wedding ring,

I did not know
And I could not see
Who was waiting there,
Who was hunting me.

By the rivers dark
I panicked on.
I belonged at last
to Babylon.

Then he struck my heart
With a deadly force,
And he said, ‘This heart:
It is not yours.’

And he gave the wind
My wedding ring;
And he circled us
With everything.

By the rivers dark,
In a wounded dawn,
I live my life
In Babylon.

Though I take my song
From a withered limb,
Both song and tree,
They sing for him.

Be the truth unsaid
And the blessing gone,
If I forget
My Babylon.

I did not know
And I could not see
Who was waiting there,
Who was hunting me.

By the rivers dark,
Where it all goes on;
By the rivers dark
In Babylon.

The source of the experience

Cohen, Leonard

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities