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Chapter 5 of Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 is “‘Tangle of Matter and Ghost’: U2, Leonard Cohen, and Blakean Romanticism,” pp. 65-82, by Lisa Plummer Crafton, Professor of English, University of West Georgia.
“‘Tangle of Matter and Ghost’: U2, Leonard Cohen, and Blakean Romanticism” by Lisa Crafton triangulates Blake’s, Cohen’s, and U2’s songwriting to illustrate how each artist represents, responds to, and addresses different life stages as they engage themes such as “social and cultural protest, the conflation of erotic/spiritual love, and the representation of the rupture of that symbiosis, especially in the poetic treatment of Judas, Yahweh, and Jesus.” Life stage writing, therefore, is demonstrated in Crafton’s chapter to be a vehicle for sociopolitical critique. Critique is simultaneously and alternatively inwardly and outwardly directed: politics are the outward manifestation of inwardly present “mind-forg’d manacles” and the external force forging those manacles from the start. Blake’s answer to this quandary, a Romantic response repeated by Leornard Cohen and then by U2 through both Blake and Cohen, is to address the mind first through imaginative vision.
Get the iTunes playlist for this chapter.
- Leonard Cohen, “I’m Your Man,” “Nevermind,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Story of Isaac,” “Suzanne,” “Who by Fire”
- Van Morrison, “Let the Slave“
- U2, “Beautiful Ghost,” “Bullet the Blue Sky,” “Grace,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “MOFO,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Until the End of the World,” “Wake Up, Dead Man,” “With or Without You”
- William Blake: The Four Zoas, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell