Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury: The Greatest Science Fiction Writer

So, today came the sad new that Ray Bradbury, the greatest living science fiction writer, has now become the greatest science fiction writer, period.

Here's what the NYP obituary had to say (thanks to friend Richard for the link):

Jeff Grubb has a moving personal response about what Bradbury meant to him:

My own personal favorite wd have to be "The Utterly Perfect Murder", a story that shows Bradbury understands everything about growing up, and holding grudges, and letting go. I think that was the point at which I realized Bradbury was not just a major (I wd say the major) science fiction writer of his time but a literary figure, the one most responsible for elevating science fiction into "literature".

It was also about that time when I discovered that Bradbury was a pretty good poet (at least when he cd shake off the malign influence of Melville and Whitman, which was not always the case). And what's kept coming back to me today is my favorite among his poems, I Have a Brother, Mostly Dead:*

I have a brother, mostly dead
And angels perched upon his head
Most of my life, mostly unseen
And yet I feel with him I've been
A cohort playmate friend of Poe
Who tours me where live friends can't go.

He teaches me his mortal park
And where the firefly stops for spark
And how the shade within the night
Is a most fine delicious fright.

I give him words, he gives me bone
To play like Piper when alone;
And so my brother, dead, you see,
Is wondrous literate company.

Thus if my Muse says: Nevermore!
I hear a tapping at my door;
My brother comes to saviour me
With graveyard biscuit, rictus tea,
That tea in which, perused awhile
One finds a lovely mummy's smile
And then again, he bids me snuff
Egyptian dust . . .
So Idea Ghosts sit up again . . .
And shape themselves with words for clothes.

All this my long lost brother does,
This sibling spent before my cause.

He moves my hand and Lo! O Lord!
His tombstone my Ouija Board.

He shouts: Stay not in buried room,
Come forth, sweet brother, flower my tomb
With words so rare and phrase so bright
They'll bonfire burn away the night.

All this to me lost brother is
And I his live sweet Lazarus.

His shout ignore? his cry refuse?
No, no! Much thanks, long-dead fine Muse.**

*I've provided the stanza breaks.

It was a good long life (almost 92 years). The world is a better place for his having been here.


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