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The insight of Cohen's love song mesmerises and amazes, even though its origins remain a mystery

One line from the genius lyricist Leonard Cohen's song Dance Me To The End Of Love begins: "Dance me to the children waiting to be born." Many have pondered what the meaning behind this line relates to.

One theory is that Cohen visited Auschwitz and saw all those horrors, then heard a story about how Germans made Jews play their wedding ceremonies to them in camps. They had to pick a bride and a groom and sing and dance for them. Another theory was that the song relates to abortion - Cohen wrote so fiercely against a culture that discarded women and children.

However, Cohen himself stated that it wasn't important whether listeners understand that, or not, because the song can be read in many other ways. His apocalyptic denunciation of society and his dystopian prophecy found a home in his poetic lyrics.

In this line, perhaps he is referring to the firmest rejection of a consumer culture that has extended its ideology of commodification even to children. Some would argue that the entire song Dance Me To The End Of Love is actually a story he read about Holocaust victims performing music in concentration camps, which led to the creation of this heart-wrenching song.

Whichever way you interpret the line, one can only be mesmerised and amazed at the human insight.

ANTHONY WOODS

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