Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”

by janetkarrowp

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” &

Janet Karro’s “White Attire”

Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”

A singer, songwriter, poet, musician and novelist, Leonard Cohen hails from Canada and has won a Juno Award for his work. His career spans decades but here, we will talk about one of his most notable songs released in the 1980s entitled “Dance Me to the End of Love”. Here are the first few lines of the song:

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone

Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Dance me to the end of love…

Written by Cohen himself, the track was first released in 1984 as a track from the album Various Positions. Music lovers described the single as being on the brink of becoming a standard, with versions from other singers like Kate Gibson, Jorge Drexler, Mark Seymour, The Civil Wars and Patricia O’Callaghan.

So what exactly does the lyrics of the song mean? According to Cohen, the song was actually inspired by the Holocaust. A specific line which is “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin”, Cohen refers to as being equivalent to the consummation of life. He says that the end of this existence and the passionate element in life’s consummation lies beauty. It’s also about surrendering to the one’s beloved.

Janet Karro’s “White Attire”


Every song tells a story and if there’s a dark background behind the composition of Leonard Cohen’s song which is “Dance Me to the End of Love”, what about Janet Karro’s “White Attire”? The background of this track off the Lady Ocean spoken word album is a merry wedding theme. Here are the first four lines of the poem:

Oh, I saw her dressed in white,

I thought she was looking like a bride,

Rougy lips and shiny eyes

Wrapped around her pearls and chimes.

The rest of the poem’s lines describe how radiant the bride looks as ‘she stands like a rose in the aisle’. Then, the last line goes like this: “At the altar, the groom and bride would be joined in Holy tie”. Janet Karro’s White Attire spoken word track is actually quite a ways from the dark, ghoulish background of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love.

Perhaps the connection lies in the fact that the song is about surrendering to one’s beloved while the poem is about the culmination of that love. No matter how many sad songs you listen to, there will always be one poem similar to “White Attire” that will give you hope about the bounty of love – which hopefully ends up with man and woman in the altar.