Bono delivered a passionate reading of Allen Ginsberg’s Gulf War-era anti-war poem “Hum Bom!” in a new video for Poetry in America, Pitchfork reports.
“It’ll be like a tongue twister. I’ll get it wrong and that’s probably the point,” the U2 singer warned before attempting the absurd, onomatopoeia-reliant poem that playfully details an aerial assault that’s pushed Earth to the brink of doomsday.
Despite the dizzying onslaught of one-syllable words, Bono deftly navigates the poem’s quirky cadence, quickening and decelerating his pace, shouting and whispering at the right moments.
Bono, an admirer of the legendary beat poet, recited Ginsberg’s poem “America” on The Joshua Tree outtake “Drunk Chicken / America.”
In a 1997 video filmed just months before Ginsberg’s death, the poet hing out on a New York City rooftop with U2 and recited the lyrics to the band’s song “Miami”:
Bono also spoke about his love of Ginsberg’s work in the documentary The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg.
“I fell in love with Allen Ginsberg’s poetry round about the time, I suppose that I fell in love with America, and, you know, it was such a new world for me,” the singer said in the film. “It seemed like this was just so different to Europe, and it made sense to me that, in the way that America needed a new music to describe it, like jazz, it also needed a new language to describe it, and I think Allen Ginsberg and the Beats created a necessary language to describe the place they lived in, not just the physical landscape but the sort of psychological one.”
Watch Ginsberg recite “Hum Bom!” below: