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In Memory of Northrop Frye

Richard Outram


Perhaps back to the hinterlands, to the clear cold springs
that reflect everything but his image, from which rivers rise.
Perhaps to the slopes of mountains, to which he could say
with complete assurance: 'Remove hence to yonder place...'
Perhaps to the swept meadows of perfect minuscule flowers
and thousand-year-old shrubs. Not to the barren peaks.

He was known along the coast where, as he would have insisted,
he was only '...finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell';
and at the deltas of tawny rivers where dugouts are clustered
he could be found in familiar discourse with the natives,
who trusted him. He would not be revered. And spent long hours
scrutinizing the great ocean all undiscovered before him.

When he departed, he left behind him elaborate maps of Terra
Incognita; the rudiments of a grammar; a code broken open;
a Sailing Instructions for mariners that, if many will perish
in the destructive element immersed, some lives may be saved.
These survive him, his graceful anatomies. He was much loved.

We could mourn him. But that would be boasting.


Richard Outram's works copyright © to The Estate of the Author.


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