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Dance Me To The End Of Love: Leonard's Demanding Request
A Romance Beyond Romanticism
The Leonard Cohen song, Dance Me To The End Of Love, naturally gives the feeling of a deep waltz of grace and sorrow, a romantic satori that dreamers are lucky to touch just once or twice a lifetime. The request of the singer is extreme and uncompromising. More than love, he wants to be taken to love's end, to ride the wave of pure romantic love out of love itself and into the mysteries that lie beyond. "Dance me to the children who are asking to be born/ dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn..." He wants out of the boundaries of life and death, and perhaps all we know of love is from our experience in this mortal realm, perhaps on the other sides of both birth and death love pales in comparison to the things that are there. Many writers have said the opposite, of course, like Thornton Wilder in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, where love is indeed the bridge that connects the living and the dead. But what if there's more? Of course there's more, and as always, Leonard Cohen is the man to seek it with everything he has -to demand it shamelessly.
If between incarnations, souls wait to be born - all souls existing in the form of children -then asking to be taken where "the children are asking to be born," must occur outside the realm of love. Only at love's end can one enter the moment before conception. (What did your face look like before you were born, says the Zen master?) Does love start at birth, in the act of conception? And before that, souls wait as if in some different essence, one that cannot be understood in the way we understand love? Well, maybe. Whatever it all is or whatever it all means --Leonard wants it. And the ones that listen to his music year after year are the ones that want it, too.
The intensity junkie craves more than just the standard romantic comedy of the month. He wants the kind of romance that Lord Byron had when he kept the skull of a dead lover and used it as a goblet to drink his wine. "Our kisses have outworn" the curtains of what we know of romance, of the carnival hagiography of a full life. Let's keep dancing, let's dance all the way home and then let's dance past home to what is underneath home. Let us dance to the end of love!