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Mourners gather in Montreal to pay tribute to Leonard Cohen

A woman places a candle in front of the home of legendary singer and poet Leonard Cohen Thursday, November 10, 2016 in Montreal. Cohen has died at the age of 82.

Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

They brought tears and books of poetry, songs and tributes and bottles of wine. Within hours of the announcement that Leonard Cohen had died, mourners in his hometown of Montreal began to gather to pay homage to one of their city's greatest sons.

The vigil outside Mr. Cohen's home just off Saint Laurent Blvd. began small, and grew as the night went on. Some strummed Mr. Cohen's works. Others gathered in a circle and sang his songs.

"I feel we lost a prophet," said Montrealer Dan Levy, after depositing a candle on the steps of the muted greystone house. "We're mourning, but we're mourning a great life. I'm not somebody who has many heroes but he was my hero."

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Mr. Cohen knew his city intimately and Montrealers felt they knew the artist the same way. He is a source of inspiration and pride, and he crossed the city's language divide to become an almost universally beloved figure.

Sitting cross-legged in the grass in the Parc du Portugal, across the street from Mr. Cohen's home, Lydia Yakonowsky described the songwriter as her "only idol." She had spent the night crying after learning of his death.

"I work in a cubicle. Sometimes I listen to his music while I work, and I feel moments of illumination," she said. "His poetry is so uplifting."

By 11 p.m., about 200 people has massed near Mr. Cohen's home. The air, aside from the soft chords of a guitar, was silent. Candles and bouquets of roses began to pile up in a shrine on the house's doorstep. Someone lit two sticks of incense.

On a lamppost by the door, a mourner taped a note. In French, it read: Montreal: Leonard Forever. RIP.

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