Sunday 11 December 2016

Singer penned heartbreaking letter of comfort to dying lover

Published 12/11/2016 | 02:30

Marianne Ihlen
Marianne Ihlen

Leonard Cohen penned a heartbreaking final letter to his muse, Marianne Ihlen, before she passed away on July 29 this year, aged 81.

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Ms Ihlen inspired the likes of 'So Long, Marianne' and 'Bird on a Wire' after the pair had met on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960s and became romantically intertwined.

Ms Ihlen's close friend Jan Christian Mollestad, a documentary filmmaker, broke the news to Mr Cohen that she was dying and had received a letter in return to read to Ihlen. "It said, 'Well, Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon'," Mr Mollestad recalled. "'Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye, old friend. Endless love, see you down the road'.

"When I read the lines 'stretch out your hand', she stretched out her hand. Only two days later she lost consciousness and slipped into death. I wrote a letter back to Leonard saying in her final moments I hummed 'A Bird on a Wire' because that was the song she felt closest to. And then I kissed her on the head and left the room, and said 'so long, Marianne'."

Mr Mollestad said Ms Ihlen had been "so happy" to receive the letter from Mr Cohen.

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