Sad news yesterday to hear about the passing of author Ray Bradbury at 91. Few authors understand theme and prose as well as Bradbury did, and to have him write Science Fiction was even greater treat, as such talented writers cross genre with such ease.
Author SL Stebel — my mentor in graduate school at USC — had been very close friends with Bradbury over the last 70 years. When I learned of Bradbury’s passing, I e-mailed Sid (SL) to offer my condolences. Oddly enough, when I was in LA a few months back visiting Sid, Ray had phoned, asking Sid for advice on an eulogy for a close friend of theirs. In reply to my e-mail yesterday, Sid shared a poem written by Ray, which was being e-mailed between members of their writing group. The poem touched me so much, I thought I’d share it with you.
Somewhere a band is playing
Oh listen, oh listen, that tune!
If you learn it you’ll dance on forever
And yet June…
And death will be dumb and not clever
And death will be silent forever
In June and June and more June.
—“Somewhere A Band Is Playing”, Ray Bradbury
I remember when I moved back to Seattle from LA years ago, and a member of Cornish School for the Arts contacted me because they were performing a play based on one of Bradbury’s stories. They wanted permission from Ray to perform the play, so I got them in touch with Ray via Sid. And, of course, the play went on. We get to read the words from writers like Bradbury far too seldom. To me, only the poet Robert Frost had such similarly sweet control of prose. Over the last few months, I’ve often picked Ray’s novel Halloween Tree from the shelf as reference for my current manuscript. The next time I pick it up, it just won’t be the same.