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The Necessity of Symbols

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About the author:
One of Thomas Ramey Watson's prominent forebears on his mother's side was Jacques LaRamee. A number of places in the upper Rocky Mountain West bear his name to this day. Laramie, Wyoming is best known.

Jacques was a renowned and influential explorer and fur-trapper. Because he was just, honest, and treated others, including the often-despised native Americans, well, he was held in high esteem. One winter, the story goes, the native Americans were starving, so they killed one of Ramee's cattle. He told his workers not to take action against them--they were hungry. Jacques shared with fellow free-trappers his theory that the world was wide and there was room enough for all. He had the courage to live his convictions and followed the beat of his own heart, not what was imposed on him from outside.

One of Ramee's progeny, psychotherapist, life coach, writer, and professor, Thomas Ramey Watson believes that journeying in various realms--of the mind, the physical world, and the soul--is central to enjoying a good life. The insights gleaned from becoming aware of the intersecting planes of existence lead us to fuller and more deeply lived lives.

Thomas Ramey Watson, Ph.D., is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies in Denver, Colorado. He has served as the Episcopal chaplain (lay) for the Auraria Campus in Denver and taught English for the University of Colorado at Denver. He has trained as a psychotherapist and was named a Research Fellow at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, a position he did not take, choosing to do postdoctoral work at Cambridge University instead.

He is the author of many scholarly writings, including an acclaimed book on Milton, Perversions, Originals, and Redemptions in Paradise Lost. His popular book about his Afghan hound and his counseling, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, is now available. His novel, Reading the Signs: A Paranormal Love Story will be published soon, as will another book of poetry, Love Threads.

Dr. Watson is available for speaking engagements, teaching assignments, counseling, and coaching. He can be reached at

The Necessity of Symbols

Authored by Thomas Ramey Watson

Foreword: What Body?

You still believe the body is a temple for the spirit? Then read Thomas Ramey Watson and be delighted and appalled with him! The Necessity of Symbols plays again and again on the sacredness of the body—the body in love, the body in ecstasy of spirit and memory, even the body of Christ in communion.

Like the forgotten troubadours, the poet gives a credible poetic ground that loving the beloved’s body is close to loving God, or at least appreciating the universe. “Knot Intrinsicate” celebrates a woman’s power:

I am seventeen— you, soft-voiced Guenevere. But a Russian doll, you held inside Mary, hawk of Catholicism, and Cleopatra, salad of the crescent world: eaten—undone—whole again.

In a long poem that summarizes loss of job, loss of wife, loss of environment (Colorado), the poet holds psalms and songs in memory step by step of the way, shoring up the many threats to his spiritual life (“A Book of Hours”):

My mind stayed on echoes: whether one eats God's words, or wakes within them— does upheaval always follow?

In the poem, “Holy Communion,” the poet does not scruple to equate the host with two lovers, who, as the poem progresses are separated, however, with the finite limits between them implicitly contrasted to God’s infinite love: “Broken from you, / I am set on a shelf.” However, the lover remains an inspiration:

Rising past the fragrance of ankles and thighs, lingering on chest and neck, to pause on tiny moles like cinnamon sprinkled about your mouth

that explored with words, and tongue, and smile, then to those eyes, brown as buttered crust on fresh-baked bread; still I hear your voice, yeasty, low.

These are fine points of a book with a broad sweep—poems about family, poems contrasting the poet’s native Denver with the signal cultural meccas of Europe, poems most often of joy. The range is admirable and the poems intricate and dedicated to spiritual growth, with creation the touchstone where reality is tested and embodied.

Alan Naslund, author of Silk Weather

Publication Date:
0981843026 / 9780981843025
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.25" x 8"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Poetry / General

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