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Sisters Of Mercy Analysis



Author: poem of Leonard Cohen Type: poem Views: 21



Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.

They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go
on.

And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me
this song.

Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so
long.


Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.


It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your
soul.

Well I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how
you're pinned:

When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that
you've sinned.


Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to
them.

They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.


If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn

they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a
stem.


When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them
soon.

Don't turn on the lights, you can read their address by the
moon.

And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened
your night:

We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all
right,

We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all
right.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

I am with 2008-02-19. The song is about acceptance of life the way it is instead of running away from \"everything that you cannot control\". To me, the sisters of mercy are female energy. They are receptive - they listen to the singer\'s confession. They are giving - they bring mercy (forgiveness for harm done or suffered). They restore creativity and life - \"later they left me this song\". This kind of energy could be radiated by flesh and blood women, (be they hookers, nuns, wives, sisters, friends etc.) It could be sent to you in dreams while you are sleeping by your own unconscious mind. It could be felt through a spiritual experience like meditation or prayer. It could even come to you from a man who is in touch with his femininity. It doesn\'t matter what kind of love you are offered or by whom - if you can accept love and return it, you\'ll be able to travel securely and gracefully though life (\"They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.\") A truly beautiful song, both so transparently simple (not simplistic!) and so deeply rich in imagery that it is open to endless interpretations.

| Posted on 2013-01-21 | by a guest


.: :.

I am with 2008-02-19. The song is about acceptance of life the way it is instead of running away from \"everything that you cannot control\". To me, the sisters of mercy are female energy. They are receptive - they listen to the singer\'s confession. They are giving - they bring mercy (forgiveness for harm done or suffered). They restore creativity and life - \"later they left me this song\". This kind of energy could be radiated by flesh and blood women, (be they hookers, nuns, wives, sisters, friends etc.) It could be sent to you in dreams while you are sleeping by your own unconscious mind. It could be felt through a spiritual experience like meditation or prayer. It could even come to you from a man who is in touch with his femininity. It doesn\'t matter what kind of love you are offered or by whom - if you can accept love and return it, you\'ll be able to travel securely and gracefully though life (\"They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.\") A truly beautiful song, both so transparently simple (not simplistic!) and so deeply rich in imagery that it is open to endless interpretations.

| Posted on 2013-01-21 | by a guest


.: :.

For me this song is about an inner struggle that someone goes through.
You secretly love someone, but you have to keep it secret.
The only solace you have is when you are alone and can freely think or dream of that person.
The problem is that you can become heavily depressed in such a situation.
The relief, if you happen to find it, comes in the form of the sisters of mercy who sweeten you dreams.
You have to confess to them, otherwise they won’t let you rest, in the surreal world they make things bearable.
With confession comes a certain amount of relief, enough relief that you find the will to live another day.
Leonard has been through this, and he sees the symptoms in other people. Maybe he wrote this to give hope to people like myself.
The most powerful lines
“If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem”
explains that time doesn’t always heal the scars, but that the sisters of mercy will keep your dream pure and new, as no one ages in your dreams. It also has a darker meaning, where a perverted love (that is not tolerated in society), can be given life in your dreams.
In the end he finds the courage to leave them alone by not wakening them, in other words he slowly lets go of his dream.
He realises he won’t get what he is looking for, but he knows he must do it gradually (it takes a long time), otherwise he will be badly scarred.
Sure, there is lots of symbolism in the piece, but it is also a very deep and personal poem/song.
I am not sure why there is more than one sister to hold your hand, perhaps it reflects that a person must not try to deal with this on their own. An order of sisters are at your disposal.
So, in short, the sisters of mercy will help you through a very dark patch in your life, but you must confess it to them, and you have to treat them very carefully.

| Posted on 2012-11-30 | by a guest


.: :.

My apologies for the double post - the last missed out many lines:
If the sisters of mercy referred to a Catholic Order, then it would be capitalised; it is not, Cohen is literate, and therefore the song refers to the two girls mentioned in the post of 2008-02-19.
“Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.”
He is writing this whilst they are still there.
“They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can\'t go
on.”
He met them when he was exhausted.
“And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me
this song.”
They made him happier and inspired the song.
“Oh I hope you run into them, you who\'ve been travelling so
long.”
I hope that anyone in my position runs into them.
“Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your
soul.
Well I\'ve been where you\'re hanging, I think I can see how
you\'re pinned
When you\'re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that
you\'ve sinned. :”
He describes himself and others like him.
“Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to
them.”
He spoke to them about his life
“They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.”
They were attractive and I felt humbled
“If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a
stem.”
More of his life as he sees it and the gratitude he has for the girls being there and talking to him
“When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them
soon.”
To be taken literally
“Don\'t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the
moon.”
It is not necessary to see them in the light – the way they are tells you all you need to know.
“And you won\'t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened
your night:
We weren\'t lovers like that and besides it would still be all
right,
We weren\'t lovers like that and besides it would still be x

| Posted on 2012-10-18 | by a guest


.: :.

If the sisters of mercy referred to a Catholic Order, then it would be capitalised; it is not, Cohen is literate, and therefore the song refers to the two girls mentioned in the post of 2008-02-19.
He is writing this whilst they are still there.
He met them when he was exhausted.
They made him happier and inspired the song.
I hope that anyone in my position runs into them.
He describes himself and others like him.
He spoke to them about his life
They were attractive and I felt humbled
More of his life as he sees it and the gratitude he has for the girls being there and talking to him
To be taken literally
It is not necessary to see them in the light – the way they are tells you all you need to know.
Self-explanatory.

| Posted on 2012-10-18 | by a guest


.: :.

My initial interpretation was that this was truly about an order of nuns; however, upon a deeper read, it seems to clearly be about a brothel of some sort -- a brothel which soothes the weary traveler at the end of (or during) an arduous journey. This is especially apparent in the line re: \"touching the dew of their hem.\" That line clearly refers to the dew relating to a certain salacious part of the female anatomy.
All in all, it\'s a beautifully simple tune musically but is substantively more complex. Wonderful through and through.

| Posted on 2012-04-30 | by a guest


.: :.

Cohen is Jewish, but his songs (including this one) are full of Christian, and particularly Catholic, imagery. This is because he grew up in Montreal, surrounded by a heavily Catholic society. He would therefore be completely familiar with both the Catholic and Jewish symbols & cultures.
The Sisters of Mercy are a Catholic order of nuns. Cohen plays with this by using this term to name the women in his encounter, which he describes in an ambiguously sexual way. And despite the sexual ambiguity of the story, it is clear that these sisters of mercy adhere to the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy.
In fact, the song is an argument that the Sisters of Mercy are actually held back by their vows of chastity. Cohen makes his argument in the last verse, where the last line explicitly includes a sexual encounter as something that \"would still be alright\" and in keeping with their mission.

| Posted on 2012-01-13 | by a guest


.: :.

For me, this song is about prostitutes. Basically he\'s saying that it\'s easier to share his secrets with them instead of his \"romantic\" partner. And how they perform a \"mercy\" for those in need of their services.

| Posted on 2011-05-16 | by a guest


.: :.

For me this song, as with much music and poetry, is like a reflection, or a rainbow--it can\'t be actually touched, or even approached too closely. It is full of both religious and sexual overtones, and mostly about finding comfort in the midst of being human. I love it.

| Posted on 2011-02-27 | by a guest


.: :.

I can understand the song according to what people have said here, but I can\'t understand the video. The violent turn in the end is really disturbing and strange that its associated with such a peaceful song. It kinda turned me off to an otherwise favorite song of mine.

| Posted on 2011-01-13 | by a guest


.: :.

i visited the site to get other opinions on the Cohen song sisters of mercy. i did not find enough anaylizing coments. so I will leave some of my own thoughts. first I would like to state that the Movie McCabe and misses Mille may have had some influence on my interpritation, I first felt the song was sexual in nature and was strictly about a mans encounter with a prostitute. The statements like I lay down besides them and made my confesions. It would imply a man devludging secrets that he may only share with a stranger. other statements lie not lovers like that might lead one to beleive its only a short non binding relationship. and one to be shared. In a deeper sence I felt it was about the human experence. men seeking refuge from the every day toil of life, women giving them that escape. also people working toward the fulfilment of their needs. by whatever meens it takes. from the mans prospective escape and comfort, the womens maybe the same. it could be a mutuial arrangement. Its a butiful song and sinple in nature. I love it!

| Posted on 2010-12-15 | by a guest


.: :.

Its a song about prostitutes theres nothing holy or religouse about it

| Posted on 2009-03-29 | by a guest


.: :.

I really would love to figure out one day why people read so much Christian stuff in to Leonard Cohen's songs. There are a few explicit mentions of Jesus, but... HELLO MCFLY... COHEN is Jewish. Well, not exactly—he's a COHEN, which means he's a Levite of the Priestly class.
If you try to read the standard Christian exegesis into his works, you're going to fail miserably. He's Jewish. He's the grandson of a renowned Torah scholar rabbi and if you would stop assuming that everyone means what they mean in the context of WASP monoculture, and try to read it Jewishly, you'd get 100x closer.

| Posted on 2009-03-25 | by a guest


.: Mercy :.

Cohen wrote this inspired by an experience he had when travelling. He met two girls, who had nowhere to stay, and he offered them his hotel bed. He himself slept in an armchair ("we weren't lovers like that").
It seems to be a song about grace. A buddhist friend of mine who I sang this song to found portions that related to Buddhist thinking, e.g. "Well I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how you're pinned".
There is also what seems to me to be christian imagery in "they touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem" - like the person who just touched Jesus's robe to be healed.
The general tone of the song is very peaceful and soothing, and it communicates someone coming to an acceptance of things as they are, through an experience that restores something like faith.

| Posted on 2008-02-19 | by a guest




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