Story of Isaac

©Leonard Cohen, released on Songs from a Room (1969)

.

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.

.

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