Letters – Issue 58

The source of Frame’s “inward sun”

In her review of An Inward Sun: The World of Janet Frame (March 2003 issue), Elizabeth Alley refers to her earlier use of the book’s title and its still earlier use by Patrick Evans, both acknowledged by Michael King. He highlights its source, the broadcast by Janet Frame on National Radio, May 1970.

Could the well-read Janet Frame have been familiar with Sir Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia (1658), and its passage on Urn-burial?

Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us. A small fire sufficeth for life, great flames seemed too little after death, while men vainly affected precious pyres, and to burn like Sardapalus, but the wisedom of funerall Laws found the folly of prodigall blazes, and reduced undoing fires unto the rule of sober obsequies, wherein few could be so mean as not to provide wood, pitch, and mourner, and an Urne.

Fertile suns make manifest the manifold. The late Arapera Blank has a poem “When I walk” in her Waiata Koa (1995), which includes the lines:


When I lie there

partaking of his life

the inward warmth

opens my eyes


to a kind of sun.


– nga kokako huataratara


Trixie Menzies

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