The Schmooze

Read Leonard Cohen’s Heartbreaking Last Letter to His Muse

Shortly after Leonard Cohen passed away last night, a heartbreaking letter penned by the singer began circulating around the internet.

The note was written to Marianne Ihlen, Cohen’s ex-girlfriend and the inspiration for his song “So Long Marianne,” who passed away from leukemia this past July.

It read:


The letter reached Ihlen the day before she died, and had a powerful impact on her.

“It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength,” her friend Jan Christian Mollestad wrote in a note back to the singer (pictured below).


Cohen and Ihlen met in 1960 on the Greek island of Hydra, and the two lived together for much of the 1960’s.

When they broke up, Cohen said they both accepted it as the inevitable.

“Those relationships that were formed idealistically or sexually or romantically couldn’t survive the challenges that ordinary lives would confront them with,” Cohen told Norwegian Radio in 2005. “So none of those relationships survived, except in the sense that we honor them, and we recognize the nourishment of those experiences.”

Thea Glassman is an Associate Editor at the Forward. Reach her at glassman@forward.com or on Twitter at @theakglassman.

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Read Leonard Cohen’s Heartbreaking Last Letter to His Muse

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