As a former Zen monk, Leonard Cohen was adept at inhabiting the present, one in which the shadow of death crept ever closer.
His former lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, had succumbed to cancer earlier in the summer, two days after receiving a frank and loving email from Cohen:
The New Yorker has never shied from over-the-top physical descriptions. The courteous, highly verbal young poet, who’d evinced “a kind of Michael Corleone Before the Fall look, sloe-eyed, dark, a little hunched” was now very thin, but still handsome, with the handshake of “a courtly retired capo.”
In addition to an album, You Want It Darker, to promote, Cohen had a massive backlog of unpublished poems and unfinished lyrics to tend to before the sands of time ran out.
At 82, he seemed glad to have all his mental faculties and the support of a devoted personal assistant, several close friends and his two adult children, all of which allowed him to maintain his music and language-based workaholic habits.
Time, as he noted, provides a powerful incentive for finishing up, despite the challenges posed by the weakening flesh:
He had clearly made peace with the idea that some of his projects would go unfinished.
You can hear his fondness for one of them, a “sweet little song” that he recited from memory, eyes closed, in the animated interview excerpt, above:
These unfinished thoughts close out Cohen’s beautifully named posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance.