'Take This Waltz' by Leonard Cohen

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(After Lorca)

Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women.
There's a shoulder where death comes to cry.
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows.
There's a tree where the doves go to die.
There's a piece that was torn from the morning,
and it hangs in the Gallery of Frost—
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws.

I want you, I want you, I want you
on a chair with a dead magazine.
In the cave at the tip of the lily,
in some hallway where love's never been.
On a bed where the moon has been sweating,
in a cry filled with footsteps and sand—
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take its broken waist in your hand.

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
with its very own breath
of brandy and death,
dragging its tail in the sea.

There's a concert hall in Vienna
where your mouth had a thousand reviews.
There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking,
they've been sentenced to death by the blues.
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
with a garland of freshly cut tears?
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
take this waltz, it's been dying for years.

There's an attic where children are playing,
where I've got to lie down with you soon,
in a dream of Hungarian lanterns,
in the mist of some sweet afternoon.
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow,
all your sheep and your lilies of snow—
Ay, ay ay ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
with its "I'll never forget you, you know!"

And I'll dance with you in Vienna,
I'll be wearing a river's disguise.
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
my mouth on the dew of your thighs.
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
with the photographs there and the moss.
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty,
my cheap violin and my cross.
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
to the pools that you lift on your wrist—
O my love, O my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz,
it's yours now. It's all that there is.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Take This Waltz: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you ready to take a waltz through the poetic wonderland created by Leonard Cohen? If so, then join me as we explore the nuances, emotions, and meanings behind his classic poem "Take This Waltz."


Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter and poet, wrote "Take This Waltz" in 1986. The poem was later transformed into a song, which was featured in his album "I'm Your Man." With its haunting melody and melancholic lyrics, the song became an instant hit and has since been covered by various artists, including Jennifer Warnes and Rufus Wainwright.


The poem "Take This Waltz" is a lyrical meditation on love, longing, and loss. It is written in a dreamlike, surrealistic style that blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The poem takes the form of a conversation between two lovers who are at the brink of parting ways. The speaker is trying to convince his lover to stay with him for one last dance, one last waltz, before they say goodbye forever. The waltz becomes a metaphor for their relationship, a final act of intimacy and connection before they are forced to let go.

The poem is divided into six stanzas, each consisting of eight lines. The first stanza sets the stage for the rest of the poem, with the speaker urging his lover to take a chance and dance with him. He tells her that there is music in their hearts and that they should let it guide them. The second stanza introduces the waltz as a metaphor for their relationship. The speaker describes the dance as a way to "forget what we cannot forgive" and to "remember what we need to forget."

In the third stanza, the speaker reflects on the fleeting nature of love and how it can slip away from us at any moment. He describes love as a "crystal waterfall," beautiful and fragile, but also dangerous and unpredictable. The fourth stanza is a plea for his lover to stay with him, even if only for a moment. He promises her that they will "dance to the end of love," and that their love will be immortalized in their dance.

The fifth stanza is a surrealistic interlude, where the speaker describes a strange and magical world where the moon is made of gold and the streets are lined with diamonds. He invites his lover to join him in this fantastical world, where they can dance forever. The sixth and final stanza brings the poem back to reality, with the speaker acknowledging that their time together is coming to an end. He asks his lover to take this last waltz with him, to hold him close, and to remember the love they once shared.


"Take This Waltz" is a beautiful and complex poem that touches on many themes and emotions. At its core, it is a poem about love and the power of memory to keep that love alive. The waltz becomes a powerful metaphor for the relationship between the speaker and his lover, a way for them to express their love and connection through movement and music.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its surrealistic imagery. Cohen creates a dreamlike world where the boundaries between reality and imagination are blurred. The moon made of gold and the streets lined with diamonds are examples of this surrealistic imagery. These images serve to heighten the emotional impact of the poem, making it feel more like a fever dream than a traditional love poem.

The use of repetition is another powerful tool that Cohen employs in the poem. The repeated phrase "take this waltz" serves as a refrain that anchors the poem and gives it a sense of unity. The repetition also helps to emphasize the urgency of the speaker's plea to his lover. He knows that time is running out, and he wants to make the most of the moments they have left together.

Cohen's use of metaphor is also noteworthy. The waltz becomes a powerful symbol for the relationship between the speaker and his lover. It represents their connection and intimacy, but it also symbolizes the fleeting nature of their love. The waltz is a dance that requires two people to move in sync with each other, but it is also a dance that must come to an end.

The poem is also notable for its use of language. Cohen's lyrics are often described as poetic and lyrical, and "Take This Waltz" is no exception. The language is rich and evocative, with imagery that is both sensual and surreal. The poem is a testament to the power of language to convey complex emotions and ideas.


What does "Take This Waltz" mean? This is a question that has been asked by many readers and listeners over the years. The beauty of the poem lies in its ambiguity, which allows for multiple interpretations. Here are a few possible interpretations:


"Take This Waltz" is a masterpiece of poetic expression. It is a haunting and beautiful poem that explores the depths of love and longing. Cohen's use of language, imagery, and metaphor serve to create a surrealistic world that is both sensual and dreamlike. The waltz becomes a powerful symbol for the relationship between the speaker and his lover, a way to express their love and intimacy through movement and music. The poem is a testament to the power of language to convey complex emotions and ideas. Whether you interpret it as a love letter, a meditation on memory and imagination, or a tribute to the power of poetry, "Take This Waltz" is a classic that will continue to resonate with readers and listeners for years to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Take This Waltz: A Masterpiece of Love and Loss

Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz is a classic poem that has captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Written in 1986, the poem is a beautiful and poignant exploration of love, loss, and the passage of time. In this analysis, we will delve deep into the meaning and symbolism of the poem, and explore the ways in which Cohen uses language and imagery to create a powerful and unforgettable work of art.

The poem begins with a simple and evocative image: “Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women”. This opening line sets the scene for the rest of the poem, and establishes the tone of wistful nostalgia that pervades the entire work. The use of the word “now” suggests that the speaker is looking back on a time that has passed, and the reference to Vienna immediately conjures up images of a bygone era of elegance and romance.

As the poem progresses, we are introduced to a series of vivid and memorable images, each of which contributes to the overall mood of melancholy and longing. The “pretty women” of Vienna are described in detail, with their “braids and ribbons” and “eyes like cherries”. These descriptions are not just decorative, however – they serve to create a sense of beauty and sensuality that is central to the poem’s themes.

The central image of the poem is the waltz itself, which is described in loving detail throughout. The waltz is presented as a symbol of both love and loss, representing the fleeting nature of human relationships and the inevitability of change. The lines “But you’re the one I’ve waited for / And I will wait no more” capture this sense of urgency and longing, as the speaker realizes that time is running out and that he must seize the moment before it is too late.

One of the most striking features of Take This Waltz is the way in which Cohen uses language to create a sense of movement and rhythm. The poem is full of alliteration, assonance, and other sound devices that give it a musical quality. The repetition of the word “waltz” throughout the poem is particularly effective, as it creates a sense of continuity and inevitability that mirrors the themes of the poem itself.

Another important aspect of the poem is its use of symbolism. The waltz is not just a dance, but a metaphor for life itself, with its ups and downs, its moments of joy and sorrow, and its ultimate destination of death. The image of the “broken trees” in the final stanza is particularly powerful, as it suggests that even the most beautiful and enduring things in life are ultimately subject to decay and destruction.

At its core, Take This Waltz is a poem about the human experience of love and loss. It speaks to the universal themes of mortality and impermanence, and reminds us that even the most beautiful and meaningful things in life are fleeting and transitory. But despite its melancholy tone, the poem is ultimately a celebration of life and all its complexities, and a testament to the enduring power of human connection.

In conclusion, Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz is a masterpiece of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of love, loss, and the passage of time are universal and timeless, and its language and imagery are both beautiful and evocative. Whether you are a longtime fan of Cohen’s work or a newcomer to his poetry, Take This Waltz is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power and beauty of language.

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