Bono on Seamus Heaney

September 4, 2013

He was there at the funeral, of course, with Adam Clayton, and also wrote this short piece in the Guardian: “Every meeting I’ve ever had since I began full-time advocacy, I have brought with me a book of Seamus Heaney’s  poems….  This is from the pope to every president I have ever met. In this past week I gave Seamus’s book Electric Light to President Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia. She’s currently obsessed with the efforts to bring electricity to her people so she could not believe it.”

Seamus Heaney “was the quietest storm that blew into town,” Bono added.  “Some of those phrases are like tattoos for me, worn very close to the heart.”

I wish I could find something like that, said about an American author by someone like Bono.  Why didn’t Nina Simone say something about James Baldwin, when there’re all these pictures of the two of them together? And why didn’t Gandhi say something more eloquent about Thoreau than what he did say: “Impelled by a sense of duty, he wrote much against his own country, America…  The thoughts which occurred to him during his imprisonment were boldly original.”

Instead I found only this: I’d like to hear five recordings of Louis Armstrong playing and singing ‘What Did I Do to Be so Black and Blue” – all at the same time. Sometimes now I listen to Louis while I have my favorite dessert of vanilla ice cream and sloe gin. I pour the red liquid over the while mound watching it glisten and the vapor rising as Louis bends that military instrument into a beam of lyrical sound. Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he’s made poetry out of being invisible.”

The other way around, but I guess it’s ok.


About wcd2

Professor of English and American Studies
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