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Home EJIL Analysis Leonard Cohen on Brexit

Leonard Cohen on Brexit

Published on March 31, 2017        Author: 

I’ve seen you change the water into wine
I’ve seen you change it back to water, too
I sit at your table every night
I try but I just don’t get high with you
I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

Ah, they’re dancing in the street—it’s Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free
I’m so sorry for that ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me


I haven’t said a word since you been gone
That any liar couldn’t say as well
I just can’t believe the static coming on
You were my ground, my safe and sound
You were my aerial

Ah, the fields are crying out—it’s Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free
I’m so sorry for that ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me

I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything

And I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine.

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5 Responses

  1. A thoughtful depiction of treaty under conventional international law.

    This poem captures the power of Article 18 and 16 of the VCLT. If there was a treaty States within the international community cannot unilaterally pullout from certain international obligations or carryout certain acts inconsistent with the overall objectives of the United nations.

  2. Francesco M.

    …to which the only appropriate response is, undoubtedly, Gloria Gaynor’s timeless contribution on Brexit (from 1978):

    https://youtu.be/fCR0ep31-6U

    (not to mention Justin Bieber’s take of just these hours: https://youtu.be/oyEuk8j8imI )

  3. Marty Lederman

    There’s not really any international law angle in it, but this is the best–the most haunting–Brexit-inspired song I’ve yet heard; conjuring the ghosts of Britain:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUxm_Pd0XRw

  4. Other Marko

    Seemed the better way
    When first I heard him speak
    Now it’s much too late
    To turn the other cheek

    Sounded like the truth
    Seemed the better way
    Sounded like the truth
    But it’s not the truth today

  5. For all those who could be interested in music (and more generally pop culture) and international law:

    http://cdi.ulb.ac.be/category/musique/

    All contributions are welcome!