"Take This Longing" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
Many men have loved the bells
You fastened to the rein
And everyone who wanted you
They found what they will always want again
Your beauty lost to you yourself
Just as it was lost to them

Oh, take this longing from my tongue
Whatever useless things these hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
Like you would do for one you love

Your body like a searchlight
My poverty revealed
I would like to try your charity
Until you cry, "now you must try my greed"
And everything depends upon
How near you sleep to me

Just take this longing from my tongue
All the lonely things my hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
Like you would do for one your love

Hungry as an archway
Through which the troops have passed
I stand in ruins behind you
With your winter clothes, your broken sandal straps
I love to see you naked over there
Especially from the back

Oh, take this longing from my tongue
All the useless things my hands have done
Untie for me your hired blue gown
Like you would do for one that you love

You're faithful to the better man
I'm afraid that he left
So let me judge your love affair
In this very room where I have sentenced mine to death
I'll even wear these old laurel leaves
That he's shaken from his head

Just take this longing from my tongue
All the useless things my hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
Like you would do for one you love
Like you would do for one you love


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi

"Take This Longing" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Take This Longing song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    General Commentthis to me is about someone who is madly in love with a woman, who only thinks of him as a very close friend and sleeps around with other men who she sees romantically, and he asks her to love him even though he knows she doesn't exactly ("like you would do for the one you love", he knows it's not him but is willing to take whatever she can give him cuz he loves her that much) and to let him see her vulnerable
    and this songs just describes that longing you feel when you're so close to someone but still not as close as you want and it's just so accurate, god, leonard is a genius.
    michal1618on June 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about Nico. The references to the bells and the gown are taken from Velvet Underground lyrics (Venus in Furs and All Tomorrow's Parties).
    Nico slept with a lot of men, and I guess Leonard Cohen was one of them. Either that, or he NEARLY slept with her (you're faithful to the better man, like you would do for one you love, etc.)
    This is just a really beautiful song.
    RianbowMoonon June 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, i guess if i were to interpret it any further...

    i feel like "the better man" might be the FRIEND that she loves AS A FRIEND, but the fact that "he left" indicates that he can't be that guy anymore. he loves her too much for that. just a hunch, based on experiences i've had.

    this is one of my favorite cohen songs. "your beauty lost to you yourself," i've known (and loved) some girls like that.
    HansGoodmanon February 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAccording to a guardian.co.uk article, Nico "resisted his charms," as she preferred younger men. Makes sense then that this song would be permeated with so much rather desperate unrequited lust....

    Also, I'm fairly certain that the lyric is "high blue gown."
    starhermiton February 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's songwriting as therapy and not vengeance.
    sdz896542on January 10, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just really discovered this song this week after some degree of romantic turmoil and these lines here:

    So let me judge your love affair
    In this very room where I have sentenced mine to death

    Stopped me absolutely dead in my tracks - It was like looking in a mirror.
    This song is a complete and absolute gem.
    amadeus267on March 11, 2016   Link

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