Ray Thomas Birthday Tribute 2022

This may sound like a non sequitur at first, but there really is a connection between Ray Thomas and Robert Browning. One semester, I was teaching the Victorians, and when we got to my favorite, Robert Browning, I once again reflected on how his poetry and Ray’s lyrics remind me of each other. So, think about it. Where Ray lyrically faces off against uncertainty and adversity with integrity in “Our Guessing Game,” “Hey, Mamma Life,” and “Celtic Sonant,” Robert gives us “Andrea del Sarto,” “Rabbi Ben Ezra,” “Prospice,” and “Love Among the Ruins.” Where Browning has the passionate romanticism of “Meeting at Night,” “Natural Magic/Magical Nature,” and “Love among the Ruins,” Ray gave us “For My Lady,” “You Make Me Feel Alright,” and “Within Your Eyes.” Then there’s the playful wit of “Nice to Be Here” and “Floating” matched with similar qualities in “Memorabilia” and “Youth and Art.” Both men can also sharpen that wit to prick at pretentiousness, hypocrisy, and complacency. Ray in “Lazy Day” and “Dear Diary” and Robert in “House,” “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister,” and “Youth and Art.” And, they both can go much darker. Ray with “Sorry,” “Painted Smile,” and “Veteran Cosmic Rocker,” much like Browning in “Caliban upon Setebos,” “Porphyria’s Lover,” and “My Last Duchess,” amongst others. Unlike Browning, Ray probably hasn’t written anything about doing in folks – even as an unreliable narrator! Ramblings like these are the reason why my friend Kathy Healey threatens to get me a T-shirt with a picture of Browning over the title “Veteran Cosmic Poet.” But take a look at the pictures; they even have the same hair!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s