Tag Archives: man of peace

Leonard Cohen – Story of Isaac (live performance 1985) (…”a scheme is not a vision…”)


“Story Of Isaac”

The door it opened slowly, 
my father he came in, 
I was nine years old. 
And he stood so tall above me, 
his blue eyes they were shining 
and his voice was very cold. 
He said, “I’ve had a vision 
and you know I’m strong and holy, 
I must do what I’ve been told.” 
So he started up the mountain, 
I was running, he was walking, 
and his axe was made of gold. 
Well, the trees they got much smaller, 
the lake a lady’s mirror, 
we stopped to drink some wine. 
Then he threw the bottle over. 
Broke a minute later 
and he put his hand on mine. 
Thought I saw an eagle 
but it might have been a vulture, 
I never could decide. 
Then my father built an altar, 
he looked once behind his shoulder, 
he knew I would not hide. 

You who build these altars now 
to sacrifice these children, 
you must not do it anymore. 
A scheme is not a vision 
and you never have been tempted 
by a demon or a god. 
You who stand above them now, 
your hatchets blunt and bloody, 
you were not there before, 
when I lay upon a mountain 
and my father’s hand was trembling 
with the beauty of the word. 

And if you call me brother now, 
forgive me if I inquire, 
“Just according to whose plan?” 
When it all comes down to dust 
I will kill you if I must, 
I will help you if I can. 
When it all comes down to dust 
I will help you if I must, 
I will kill you if I can. 
And mercy on our uniform, 
man of peace or man of war
the peacock spreads his fan.