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Набоков Владимир. Книга: [Proofed to line 1994]. Страница 4
Все книги писателя Набоков Владимир. Скачать книгу можно по ссылке s

eering at something in a tree: "It's gone.

It was so small. It might come back" (all this

Voiced in a whisper softer than a kiss).

I love you when you call me to admire

A jet's pink trail above the sunset fire.

I love you when you're humming as you pack

A suitcase or the farcical car sack

With round-trip zipper. And I love you most

290When with a pensive nod you greet her ghost

And hold her first toy on your palm, or look

At a postcard from her, found in a book.

She might have been you, me, or some quaint blend:

Nature chose me so as to wrench and rend

Your heart and mine. At first we'd smile and say:

"All little girls are plump" or "Jim McVey

(The family oculist) will cure that slight

Squint in no time." And later. "She'll be quite

Pretty, you know"; and, trying to assuage

300The swelling torment: "That's the awkward age."

"She should take riding lessons," you would say

(Your eyes and mine not meeting). "She should play

Tennis, or badminton. Less starch, more fruit!

She may not be a beauty, but she's cute."

It was no use, no use. The prizes won

In French and history, no doubt, were fun;

At Christmas parties games were rough, no doubt,

And one shy little guest might be left out;

But let's be fair: while children of her age

310Were cast as elves and fairies on the stage

That she'd helped paint for the school pantomime,

My gentle girl appeared as Mother Time,

A bent charwoman with slop pail and broom,

And like a fool I sobbed in the men's room.

Another winter was scrape-scooped away.

The Toothwort White haunted our woods in May.

Summer was power-mowed, and autumn, burned.

Alas, the dingy cygnet never turned

Into a wood duck. And again your voice:

320"But this is prejudice! You should rejoice

That she is innocent. Why overstress

The physical? She _wants_ to look a mess.

Virgins have written some _resplendent_ books.

Lovemaking is not everything. Good looks

Are not that indispensable!" And still

Old Pan would call from every painted hill.

And still the demons of our pity spoke:

No lips would share the lipstick of her smoke;

The telephone that rang before a ball

330Every two minutes in Sorosa Hall

For her would never ring; and, with a great

Screeching of tires on gravel, to the gate

Out of the lacquered night, a white-scarfed beau

Would never come for her; she'd never go,

A dream of gauze and jasmine, to that dance.

We sent her, though, to a chateau in France.

And she returned in tears, with new defeats,

New miseries. On days when all the streets

Of College Town led to the game, she'd sit

340On the library steps, and read or knit;

Mostly alone she'd be, or with that nice

Frail roommate, now a nun; and, once or twice,

With a Korean boy who took my course.

She had strange fears, strange fantasies, strange force

Of character - as when she spent three nights

Investigating certain sounds and lights

In an old barn. She twisted words: pot, top,

Spider, redips. And "powder" was "red wop."

She called you a didactic katydid.

350She hardly ever smiled, and when she did,

It was a sign of pain. She'd criticize

Ferociously our projects, and with eyes

Expressionless sit on her tumbled bed

Spreading her swollen feet, scratching her head

With psoriatic fingernails, and moan,

Murmuring dreadful words in monotone.

She was my darling - difficult, morose -

But still my darling. You remember those

Almost unruffled evenings when we played

360Mah-jongg, or she tried on your furs, which made

Her almost fetching; and the mirrors smiled,

The lights were merciful, the shadows mild,

Sometimes I'd help her with a Latin text,

Or she'd be reading in her bedroom, next

To my fluorescent lair, and you would be

In your own study, twice removed from me,

And I would hear both voices now and then:

370"Mother, what's grimpen?" "What is what?" "Grim Pen."

Pause, and your guarded scholium. Then again:

"Mother, what's chtonic?" That, too, you'd explain,

Appending, "Would you like a tangerine?"

"No. Yes. And what does sempiternal mean?"

You'd hesitate. And lustily I'd roar

The answer from my desk through the closed door.

It does not matter what it was she read

(some phony modern poem that was said

In English Lit to be a document

"Engazhay and compelling" - what this meant

Nobody cared); the point is that the three

380Chambers, then bound by you and her and me,

Now form a tryptich or a three-act play

In which portrayed events forever stay.

I think she always nursed a small mad hope.

I'd finished recently my book on Pope.

Jane Dean, my typist, offered her one day

To meet Pete Dean, a cousin. Jane's fiance

Would then take all of them in his new car

A score of miles to a Hawaiian bar.

The boy was picked up at a quarter past

390Eight in New Wye. Sleet glazed the roads. At last

They found the place - when suddenly Pete Dean

Clutching his brow exclaimed that he had clean

Forgotten an appointment with a chum

Who'd land in jail if he, Pete, did not come,

Et cetera. She said she understood.

After he'd gone the three young people stood

Before the azure entrance for awhile.

Puddles were neon-barred; and with a smile

She said she'd be de trop, she'd much prefer

400Just going home. Her friends escorted her

To the bus stop and left; but she, instead

Of riding home, got off at Lochanhead.

You scrutinized your wrist: "It's eight fifteen.

[And here time forked.] I'll turn it on." The screen

In its blank-broth evolved a lifelike blur,

And music welled. _He took one look at her,

And shot a death ray at well-meaning Jane._

A male hand traced from Florida to Maine

The curving arrows of Aeolian wars.

410You said that later a quartet of bores,

Two writers and two critics, would debate

The Cause of Poetry on Channel 8.

A nymph came pirouetting, under white

Rotating petals, in a vernal rite

To kneel before an altar in a wood

Where various articles of toilet stood.

I went upstairs and read a galley proof,

And heard the wind roll marbles on the roof.

"See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing"

420Has unmistakably the vulgar ring

Of its preposterous age. Then came your call,

My tender mockingbird, up from the hall.

I was in time to overhear brief fame

And have a cup of tea with you: my name

Was mentioned twice, as usual just behind

(one oozy footstep)Frost. "_Sure you don't mind?

I'll catch the Exton plane, because you know

If I don't come by midnight with the dough_ -"

And then there was a kind of travelog:

430A host narrator took us through the fog

Of a March night, where headlights from afar

Approached and grew like a dilating star,

To the green, indigo and tawny, sea

Which we had visited in thirty-three,

Nine months before her birth. Now it was all

Pepper-and-salt, and hardly could recall

That first long ramble, the relentless light,

The flock of sails (one blue among the white

Clashed queerly with the sea, and two were red),

440The man in the old blazer, crumbing bread,

The crowding gulls insufferably loud,

And one dark pigeon waddling in the crowd.

"Was that the phone?" You listened at the door.

More headlights in the fog. There was no sense

In window-rubbing: only some white fence

And the reflector poles passed by unmasked.

"Are we quite sure she's acting right?" you asked.

"It's technically a blind date, of course.

450Well, shall we try the preview of Remorse?"

And we allowed, in all tranquillity,

The famous film to spread its charmed marquee;

The famous face flowed in, fair and inane:

The parted lips, the swimming eyes, the grain

Of beauty on the cheek, odd gallicism,

And the soft form dissolving in the prism

Of corporate desire. "I think," she said,

"I'll get off here." "It's only Lochanhead."

"Yes, that's okay." Gripping the stang, she peered

460At ghostly trees. Bus stopped. Bus disappeared.

Thunder above the Jungle. "No, not that!"

Pat Pink, our guest (antiatomic chat).

Eleven struck. You sighed. "Well, I'm afraid

There's nothing else of interest." You played

Network roulette: the dial turned and tricked.

Commercials were beheaded. Faces flicked.

An open mouth in midsong was struck out.

An imbecile with sideburns was about

To use his gun, but you were much too quick.

470A jovial Negro raised his trumpet. Trk.

Your ruby ring made life and laid the law.

Oh, switch it off! And as life snapped we saw

A pinhead light dwindle and die in black

Infinity. Out of his lakeside shack

A watchman, Father Time, all gray and bent,

Emerged with his uneasy dog and went

Along the reedy bank. He came too late.

You gently yawned and stacked away your plate.

We heard the wind. We heard it rush and throw

480Twigs at the windowpane. Phone ringing? No.

I helped you with the dishes. The tall clock

Kept on demolishing young root, old rock.

"Midnight," you said. What's midnight to the young?

And suddenly a festive blaze was flung

Across five cedar trunks, snowpatches showed,

And a patrol car on our bumpy road

Came to a crunching stop. Retake, retake!

People have thought she tried to cross the lake

At Lochan Neck where zesty skaters crossed

490From Exe to Wye on days of special frost.

Others supposed she might have lost her way

By turning left from Bridgeroad; and some say

She took her poor young life. I know. You know.

It was a night of thaw, a night of blow,

With great excitement in the air. Black spring

Stood just around the corner, shivering

In the wet starlight and on the wet ground.

The lake lay in the mist, its ice half drowned.

A blurry shape stepped off the reedy bank

500Into a crackling, gulping swamp, and sank.

Canto Three

L'if, lifeless tree! Your great Maybe, Rabelais:

The grand potato. I.P.H., a lay

Institute (I) of Preparation (P)

For the Hereafter (H), or If, as we

Called it - big if! - engaged me for one term

To speak on death ("to lecture on the Worm,"

Wrote President McAber). You and I,

And she, then a mere tot, moved from New Wye

To Yewshade, in another, higher state.

510I love great mountains. From the iron gate

Of the ramshackle house we rented there

One saw a snowy form, so far, so fair,

That one could only fetch a sigh, as if

It might assist assimilation. Iph

Was a larvorium and a violet:

A grave in Reason's early spring. And yet

It missed the gist of the whole thing; it missed

What mostly interests the preterist;

For we die every day; oblivion thrives

520Not on dry thighbones but on blood-ripe lives,

And our best yesterdays are now foul piles

Of crumpled names, phone numbers and foxed files.

I'm ready to become a floweret

Or a fat fly, but never, to forget.

And I'll turn down eternity unless

The melancholy and the tenderness

Of mortal life; the passion and the pain;

The claret taillight of that dwindling plane

Off Hesperus; your gesture of dismay

530On running out of cigarettes; the way

You smile at dogs; the trail of silver slime

Snails leave on flagstones; this good ink, this rhyme,

This index card, this slender rubber band

Which always forms, when dropped, an ampersand,

Are found in Heaven by the newly dead

Stored in its strongholds through the years.

Instead The Institute assumed it might be wise

Not to expect too much of paradise:

What if there's nobody to say hullo

To the newcomer, no reception, no

540Indoctrination? What if you are tossed

Into a boundless void, your bearings lost,

Your spirit stripped and utterly alone,

Your task unfinished, your despair unknown,

Your body just beginning to putresce,

A non-undresssable in morning dress,

Your widow lying prone on a dim bed,

Herself a blur in your dissolving head!

While snubbing gods, including the big G,

550Iph borrowed some peripheral debris

From mystic visions; and it offered tips

(The amber spectacles for life's eclipse) -

How not to panic when you're made a ghost:

Sidle and slide, choose a smooth surd, and coast,

Meet solid bodies and glissade right through,

Or let a person circulate through you.

How to locate in blackness, with a gasp,

Terra the Fair, an orbicle of jasp.

How to keep sane in spiral types of space.

560Precautions to be taken in the case

Of freak reincarnation: what to do

On suddenly discovering that you

Are now a young and vulnerable toad

Plump in the middle of a busy road,

Or a bear cub beneath a burning pine,

Or a book mite in a revived divine.

Time means succession, and succession, change:

Hence timelessness is bound to disarrange

Schedules of sentiment. We give advice

570To widower. He has been married twice:

He meets his wives; both loved, both loving, both

Jealous of one another. Time means growth.

And growth means nothing in Elysian life.

Fondling a changeless child, the flax-haired wife

Grieves on the brink of a remembered pond

Full of a dreamy sky. And, also blond,

But with a touch of tawny in the shade,

Feet up, knees clasped, on a stone balustrade

The other sits and raises a moist gaze

580Toward the blue impenetrable haze.

How to begin? Which first to kiss? What toy

To give the babe? Does that small solemn boy

Know of the head-on crash which on a wild

March night killed both the mother and the child?

And she, the second love, with instep bare

In ballerina black, why does she wear

The earrings from the other's jewel case?

And why does she avert her fierce young face?

For as we know from dreams it is so hard

590To speak to our dear dead! They disregard

Our apprehension, queaziness and shame -

The awful sense that they're not quite the same.

And our school chum killed in a distant war

Is not surprised to see us at his door.

And in a blend of jauntiness and gloom

Points at the puddles in his basement room.

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