Take This Waltz (1980-1993)
Leonard Cohen - Lyrics based on the Federico Garcia Lorca's poem "Little Viennese Waltz" - (Pequeno Vals Vienes)

"With the Lorca poem, the translation took 150 hours, just to get it into English that resembled - I would never presume to say duplicated - the greatness of
Lorca's poem.  It was a long, drawn-out affair, and the only reason I would
even attempt it is my love for Lorca. I loved him as a kid; I named my
daughter Lorca, so you can see this is not a casual figure in my life."

L. Cohen, Interview "Your Flesh" Magazine, 1992

Read the complete interview
I must be very careful about the time, because if I play one minute past a certain time, we are penalised many 1000 DM. And if I'm penalised many 1000 DM, I do not make a profit on this concert. And if I do not make a profit on this concert, then the entire theory of West Berlin is put into question. So forgive me if I consult my watch from time to time now - Man in audience "Buy a new watch" -  It's becoming critical, it's a very serious situation, it can only be remedied by a song. Here we go....

Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the death of Federico Garcia Lorca, a great Spanish writer. He was the first poet that ever touched me. And i remember the first lines of his that i ever read that moved me into this delicious racket called poetry. It was: "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira*, to see your thighs and begin weeping". That line burned itself into my heart and i've written it over and over again in a hundred songs. This is a song of his,called "Little Viennese Waltz" that i had the great honor to translate and set to music.

*The "Arch Of Elvira" ("Puerta De Elvira" , XI th century) is a famous monument in Granada,where the poet spent most of his life.

*This mention refers to the poem by Lorca called "Divan Del Tamarit":
  "Through the arch of Elvira (the wife of Don Juan)
  I'm going to see you pass
  to see your thighs
  and begin weeping"

It was about 300 years ago today that I stumbled on a book by a Spanish poet. A book that was to alter my life completely. You see I was destined to be a brain surgeon or a forest ranger or even just to go into the family clothing business. But in this old bookstore I opened a book and I read the lines "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping." I turned to the cover of the book, it was written by a Spanish poet by the name of Frederico Garcia Lorca, and for the first time I understood that there was another world and I wanted to be in it. So it was a great honour for me when I was asked to translate one of his great poems into English and to set it to music. The poem is Little Viennese Waltz which I called Take This Waltz.

Last year I had the great honour to translate into English a poem by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca,a man who effectively ruined my life when I was fifteen. I found a book of his in a secondhand bookstore. I read the lines, "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira to see your thighs and begin weeping." And for the next thirty years, I was looking for the arches of Elvira, I was looking for those thighs, I was looking for my tears. I'm glad I've forgotten all that and I could revenge him with this act of homage, by translating one of his great poems into clumsy English. Take this Waltz,take this waltz.

Here of all places I don't have to explain how I fell in love with the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. I was 15 years old and I was wandering through the bookstores of Montreal and I fell upon one of his books,and I opened it,and my eyes saw those lines "I want to pass through the Arches of Elvira,to see her thighs and begin weeping". I thought "This is where I want to be"... I read alone "Green I want you green "I turned another page "The morning through fistfulls of ants in your face" I turned another page "Her thighs slipped away like school of silver minnows". I knew that I have had come home. So it is with a great sense of gratitude that I am able to repay my debt to Federico Garcia, at least a corner, a fragment, a crumb, a hair, an electron of my debt by dedicating this song, this translation of his great poem "Little Viennese Waltz", "Take This Waltz".

Long time ago I was about 15 in my hometown of Montreal, I was rumbling through....or rambling as you say down here. We say "rumbling" .Actually we don't say that at all. I was rumbling through this bookstore in Montreal. And I came upon this old book, a second-hand book of poems by a Spanish poet. I opened it up and I read these lines : "I want to pass through the arches of Elvira, to see your thighs and begin weeping". Well that certainly was a refreshing sentiment. I began my own search for those arches those thighs and those tears....Another line "The morning through fistfuls of ants at my face" It's a terrible idea. But this was a universe I understood thoroughly and I began to pursue it, I began to follow it and I began to live in it. And now these many years later, it is my great privilege to be able to offer my tiny homage to this great Spanish poet, the aniversary of whose assassination was celebrated two years ago. He was killed by the Civil Guards in Spain in 1936. But my real homage to this poet was naming my own daughter Lorca. It was Federico Garcia Lorca. I set one of his poems to music and translated it. He called it "Little Vienese Waltz". My song is called "Take this Waltz".

A long time ago in a second hand bookstore in the city of Montreal, I stumbled on a book that altered the course of my shabby and tiny existence. It was the "Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca". And I accepted his invitation to enter that world of crystals and ants and thighs and arches. And when I got old enough to realize that I owed someone my gratitude, I wrote him this tiny homage based on a great poem he wrote called "Little Viennese Waltz."

A long time ago i came upon the poems of a great Spanish poet and tonight once again I offer my tiny homage to Federico Garcia Lorca.

Thank you very much friends for this very warm reception this evening, we really appreciate it. You know, I named my daughter Lorca, after the great Spanish poet. I was really pleased when she put a ring in her nose. I was delighted at the age of 18 when she dyed her hair blue. Later on it was.... you can understand a father's pride....when she put a stud through her tongue.....(laughs)...She lives within the true spirit of the poet. and I love her for it. It was with a great sense of anxiety and trepidation that I began to translate one of the great poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and it has been a great source of pleasure to me to receive a letter from his sister congratulating me on my tiny hommage to this great poet's work. Take This Waltz.

My daughter dyed her hair blue and I didn't mind,and she put this ring in her nose : I didn't mind that either.And she put this stud through her tongue.That was a little hard for a father to take but I didn't really feel like doing violence to her relationship just because you put a nail through a tongue. There are things you have to accept.Then she said she want to move to  Amsterdam. That's when I put my foot down.( all this is my way of introducing a song ).My daughter was named after a great poet that touched me very much when I was her age.His name is Federico Garcia Lorca.My daughter's name is Lorca.And this is the song for him.

It was a long time ago in a book store in Montreal I stumble on a book by a great Spanish poet. And in this book he invited me to enter a universe of ants and crystals and arches and minnows and thighs that slipped away like herds of tiny fish. I  entered that world and I'm so happy to say that I never left it. And here's my tiny homage to the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.  Take this Waltz...

You know it was many years ago in the city of Montreal that I stumbled upon this volume. I opened it and I accepted the poet's invitation to enter into this world where fistfuls of ants were thrown at the sun and crystals obscured the pine trees and there were the arches of Elvira to pass through and begin weeping and there were those thighs that slipped away like schools of silver minnows. That was the irresistible seductive invitation I could not resist. I slipped into that fist, I did, I lived among the ants and I learned their ways. I mastered the crystals. I healed many alcoholic gurus with my crystal powers. I passed through the arches of Elvira and I did, I began weeping. That's nothing new. I saw those thighs glistening like hunting horns and I touched them, I did, I pulled my hand away and I slipped away like a school of silver minnows. I've never left that world. I stand here tonight and I invite you all to join me here. There's lots of space, there's no boundaries, there's no politics, no language. All you have to do is celebrate the sunlight coming through the hair of your beloved. It's a simple thing. And it's my great honour and my great privilege and my tiny duty to render this homage to the great Spanish poet who invited me there, Federico Garcia Lorca.Take this waltz, take this waltz.

It was many years ago in my home town of Montreal that I stumbled into this second hand bookstore. I opened up this volume and I accepted the poet's invitation to enter into this world of fistfuls of ants that were thrown at the sun and crystals that could not be climbed and the arches of Elvira through which you must pass through to see her thighs and began weeping. A seductive invitation, far more seductive than sixties. And I did, I squeezed myself into that fistful of ants and I lived among them and I learned their ways. I mastered the crystals and I cured many an alcoholic guru with those crystals. I passed through the arches of Elvira and did, I began weeping. I touched her thighs and I began weeping, and I slipped away like a school of silver minnows and I lived in that universe into which the poet invited me and invite you all to join me. Here there is no space and no time and no conflict, no fight, no language differences, no religious differences, we're just here smitten with the moonlight. And I take this opportunity to render my tiny homage to the great Spanish poet, who invited me into this dismal enlightenment, the great Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca. Take this waltz, take this waltz.

Enrique Morente paid homage to Federico Garcia Lorca and Leonard Cohen by recording "Pequeno Vals Vienes" (1986). This recording is based on the original spanish words of the poet and on the music by Leonard Cohen. About this tribute album, Leonard said once :<<The fact that he saw something in my songs that could be translated into flamenco music is what touches me. Cause a lot of the changes in for example "First We Take Manhattan" are flamenco changes. So that he saw that these songs had a reference to something that he understood and that we meet there and that he made those songs into flamenco songs.>>

("Morning Becomes Eclectic", Interview 1997, KCRW Radio, USA)


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