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Cohen, Leonard - Raven and dove

Identifier

004417

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Chaldean myth,  the character Utnapishtim releases a dove and a raven to find land, however, the dove merely circles and returns. Only then does Utnapishtim send forth the raven, who does not return. Utnapishtim extrapolates from this that the raven has found land, which is why it hasn't returned. 

According to the Internet “This would seem to indicate some acknowledgement of raven intelligence, which may have been apparent even in ancient times, and to some might imply that the higher intelligence of ravens, when compared to other birds, is striking enough that it was known even then”.  It might also indicate the intelligence of the man in knowing a raven being an opportunistic and undomesticated bird wouldn’t come back if it did find land.

Cohen's poems is based on this idea, but it is far more symbolic, it is about taming the Intellect to make way for the Higher spirit.

A description of the experience

O send out the raven ahead of the dove – Leonard Cohen

His blood on my arm is warm as a bird
his heart in my hand as heavy as lead
his eyes through my eyes shine brighter than love
O send out the raven ahead of the dove

His life in my mouth is less than a man
his death on my breast is harder than stone
his eyes through my eyes shine brighter than love
O send out the raven ahead of the dove

O send out the raven ahead of the dove
O sing from your chains where you're chained in a cave
your eyes through my eyes shine brighter than love
your blood in my ballad collapses the grave

O break from your branches a green branch of love
after the raven has died for the dove

The source of the experience

Cohen, Leonard

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References