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The Guardian view on Leonard Cohen: art lasts; life doesn’t | Editorial

Poetry is an endless conversation and argument with the dead – the most important talk we’ll ever have

Leonard Cohen once called himself “a ninth-rate practitioner in a great tradition” but he’ll be remembered as more than that. His best lines will remain, subtle and tough like a poacher’s snares to pull tight the knot of pleasure and apprehension around readers who stumble into them long after his obituaries are forgotten. That is something of what it means to be part of a tradition: to strike up new conversations even when you’re dead. Memory and poetry are closely entwined. Poems live in memory or not at all and, while they do, they help to shape the people who remember them.

This has been a year, indeed a week, that will be grimly remembered for decades, but it is also a year in which we remember many horrors of the past. The slaughter at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris was exactly a year ago. A concert by Sting will commemorate this and at the same time try to change its meaning and show that music can’t be permanently silenced with gunfire.

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