The Spice-Box of Earth
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"The Spice-Box of Earth is Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen's second collection of poetry. It was first published in 1961 by McClelland and Stewart. The book brought the then 27 year-old poet a measure of early literary acclaim. Many poems have been anthologized in Canadian school textbooks.
Following The Spice-Box of Earth, Cohen retreated for several years to the treeless Argolic island of Hydra in Greece, where he began work on the far more angular and abrasive poems collected in Flowers for Hitler in 1964."
A cloud of grasshoppers passed between us and the moon, going the other way, each one fat and flying slow, not hungry for the leaves and ferns we rested on below. The smell that burning cities give was in the air. Battalions of the wretched, wild with holy promises, soon passed our sleeping place; they ran among the ferns and grass. I had two thoughts: to leave my love and join their wandering, join their holiness; or take my love to the city they had fled: That impoverished world of
minds fed on wilderness -O what a blaze of love our bodies press! A Poem to Detain Me I bound to my temples a box of flesh filled with holy letters & captured poems -& I am probably wrong. With thongs of time bind to your body the heart of a man. I'm heading for another border, my scrapbooks stuffed with murder & a crazy rumour of glory whispering through the wires of my spine. Lucky Cain wandered for one crime & received on his forehead a sign which proved in every mirror who was the slayer
each lair. I don't know what the hunters gave, But all the money of the sun Falling between the shadows of your face In yellow coin, Could not bribe away the scorn Which fastens up your mouth. The Boy's Beauty For Betty I awarded you the boy's beauty. I gladly dedicated him undiseased and whole that he might prove the belief in depraved swans, the tedious theories of celestial assault. Had your thighs quivered, your nipples hardened properly, I would not have ordered the mutilation of his face,
In its bright flutter. Now the sharp stars are in the sky And I am shivering as I did last night, And the wind is not warmer For the yellow butterfly Folded somewhere on a sticky leaf And moving like a leaf itself. And how truly great A miracle this is, that I, Who this morning saw the Baal Shem's butterfly Doing its glory in the sun, Should spend this night in darkness, Hands pocketed against the flies and cold. Gift You tell me that silence is nearer to peace than poems but if for my gift I
brassworks my uncle grows sad, discharging men to meet the various crises. He is disturbed by greatness and may write a book. My father died among old sewing machines, echo of bridges and water in his hand. I have his leather books now and startle at each uncut page. Cousins in the factory are unhappy. Adjustment is difficult, they are told. One is consoled with a new Pontiac, one escapes with Bach and the folk-singers. Must we find all work prosaic because our grandfather built an early