I have realized in my time here at Lawrence that my ambitions tend to stray from the norm—for instance, it is my dream to go to a U2 concert and hear Bono perform “Bad.” I have been listening to Bono’s rich aural compositions for the entirety of my temporal existence. His sacrosanct voice pumps pure Red Bull into my collapsed veins, which I know is not the typical response to Bono for someone of my age, but hear me out on this: it is my professional opinion that the famed Victorian era poet Gerard Manley Hopkins would have been a U2 fan, just like I am, and that we should all follow in his footsteps to appreciate the greatest band of all time.
Gerard Manley Hopkins is agreed upon by critics to be one of the greatest nineteenth century poets. His Catholic faith factored heavily into his poetry, which was characterized by his nuanced rhythmic patterns and his proclivity to reinvigorate poetic structures. Hopkins, also a priest, had an infinite appreciation for the earthly beauty surrounding him, often writing about nature in addition to religion. Similarly, Bono’s faith deeply factors into his lyrics, with songs like “Gloria” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” standing out as the obvious examples. His regard for the world around him can be heard in “Beautiful Day” and “Electrical Storm,” along with many other U2 songs. To many critics, Bono’s lyrics employ poetic essence combined with political anger and organized dissent uncharacteristic of many artists in his day. In 2005, Bob Dylan noted that Bono had “the soul of an ancient poet,” and that he “can roar ‘till the earth shakes.” Bono’s innate propensity toward the sphere of poetry allows us, the listener, to experience a rare nuance in music difficult to find in many other œuvres. It is apparent that Bono’s spiritual connectedness and rebellious tone as explained above are reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ own spirituality and unconventional administration of prosody. Both of these artists are rebels in their own fields—with Hopkins manipulating rhyme and imagery in ways never done before and with Bono actualizing his own political agenda through song, particularly in the albums War, The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum. I do wholeheartedly believe that if Gerard Manley Hopkins existed today, he would be a staunch U2 fan, appreciating both the messages enveloped in Bono’s profound lyricism as well as the subtle, but noteworthy poetic gradation Bono imbues in each of his works. Now that we can agree that Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the greatest poets of all time, would appreciate Bono’s artistic sophistication, maybe it is time we all give it up for Bono’s pioneering endeavors in the interconnected domains of music and poetry. I know I spent many years hiding my steadfast loyalty and perhaps borderline idolatry for U2 and all that Bono has done for me, but I am here today to drag the past out into the light: I am a massive U2 fan, and you know what? So is Gerard Manley Hopkins.