25 Timeless Leonard Cohen Quotes

Last updated on Sep 20th, 2023

25 Timeless Leonard Cohen Quotes

Leonard Norman Cohen (born September 21, 1934, in Westmount, Quebec, Canada – died November 7, 2016, in Los Angeles, California, U.S.) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, and novelist.

Cohen started as a poet and novelist during the 1950s, publishing his first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956). His music career began in the mid-1960s when he became interested in the Greenwich Village folk scene. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released in 1967.

Leonard Cohen is best known for his poetic lyrics, songs, and baritone voice. Some of his notable albums are Songs of Love and Hate (1971), Death of a Ladies’ Man (1977), Various Positions (1984), I’m Your Man (1988), The Future (1992), Old Ideas (2012), and You Want It Darker (2016).

Some of his many awards and honors include induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1991), the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2006), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2008), and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2010).

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. - Leonard Cohen (Anthem Quotes)
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There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.Anthem, from the album The Future (1992)

What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. - Leonard Cohen (Beautiful Losers Quotes)
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What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love.Beautiful Losers (Bantam Books, ed. 1966), Book I, Page 121

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. - Leonard Cohen (Poetry Quotes)
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Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.Songs Sacred and Profane by Ira Mothner (June 10, 1969)

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book I, Chapter 1, Page 8

Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty. - Leonard Cohen (Death of a Lady's Man Quotes)
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Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you’re tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty.Death of a Lady's Man (1978), How to Speak Poetry, Page 199

Prayer is translation. A man translates himself into a child asking for all there is in a language he has barely mastered. - Leonard Cohen (Beautiful Losers Quotes)
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Prayer is translation. A man translates himself into a child asking for all there is in a language he has barely mastered.Beautiful Losers (Bantam Books, ed. 1966), Book I, Page 71

This is the most challenging activity that humans get into, which is love. You know, where we have the sense that we can't live without love. That life has very little meaning without love. - Leonard Cohen Quotes
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This is the most challenging activity that humans get into, which is love. You know, where we have the sense that we can’t live without love. That life has very little meaning without love. I'm blessed with a certain amnesia by Jian Ghomeshi, in The Guardian (July 10, 2009)

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book IV, Chapter 12, Page 195

Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true. It is the tension… - Leonard Cohen (The Spice-Box of Earth Quotes)
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Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true. It is the tension…The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), (McCelland and Stewart, ed. 1972), Lines from My Grandfather's Journal, Page 82

But love is not some kind of victory march, no it's a cold and it's a very broken Hallelujah. - Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah Quotes)
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But love is not some kind of victory march, no it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah.Hallelujah, additional verses, from the album Various Positions (1984)

Do not be a magician - be magic! - Leonard Cohen (Beautiful Losers Quotes)
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Do not be a magician – be magic!Beautiful Losers (Bantam Books, ed. 1966), Book II, Page 207

A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book III, Chapter 8, Page 140

When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you. - Leonard Cohen Quotes
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When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you.I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh, in The Observer (October 14, 2001)

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn't. - Leonard Cohen (There Is a War Quotes)
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There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn’t.There Is a War, from the album New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)

When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you've sinned. - Leonard Cohen (Sisters of Mercy Quotes)
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When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.Sisters of Mercy, from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book I, Chapter 17, Page 28

Love is a fire. It burns everyone. It disfigures everyone. It is the world's excuse for being ugly. - Leonard Cohen (The Energy of Slaves Quotes)
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Love is a fire. It burns everyone. It disfigures everyone. It is the world’s excuse for being ugly.The Energy of Slaves (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1972), Page 105

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Never make a decision when you have to pee. - Leonard Cohen (Beautiful Losers Quotes)
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Never make a decision when you have to pee.Beautiful Losers (Bantam Books, ed. 1966), Book II, Page 246

We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky. - Leonard Cohen (Stories of the Street Quotes)
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We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky.Stories of the Street, from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made; in love we disappear. - Leonard Cohen (Boogie Street Quotes)
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We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made; in love we disappear.Boogie Street, from the album Ten New Songs (2001)

In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book III, Chapter 8, Page 140

We are not mad. We are human. We want to love, and someone must forgive us for the paths we take to love, for the paths are many and dark, and we are ardent and cruel in our journey. - Leonard Cohen (A Colony of Lepers Quotes)
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We are not mad. We are human. We want to love, and someone must forgive us for the paths we take to love, for the paths are many and dark, and we are ardent and cruel in our journey.A Colony of Lepers

How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me? - Leonard Cohen (Beautiful Losers Quotes)
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How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?Beautiful Losers (Bantam Books, ed. 1966), Book I, Page 49

I wish I could say twelve things at once. I wish I could say all there was to say in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end. - Leonard Cohen (The Favourite Game Quotes)
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I wish I could say twelve things at once. I wish I could say all there was to say in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end.The Favourite Game (1963), (McClelland and Stewart, ed. 1970), Book III, Chapter 13, Page 169

We are ugly but we have the music. - Leonard Cohen (Chelsea Hotel #2 Music Quotes)
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We are ugly but we have the music.Chelsea Hotel #2, from the album New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)