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Набоков Владимир. Книга: [Proofed to line 1994]. Страница 5
Все книги писателя Набоков Владимир. Скачать книгу можно по ссылке s

But who can teach the thoughts we should roll-call

When morning finds us marching to the wall

Under the stage direction of some goon

600Political, some uniformed baboon?

We'll think of matters only known to us -

Empires of rhyme, Indies of calculus;

Listen to distant cocks crow, and discern

Upon the rough gray wall a rare wall fern;

And while our royal hands are being tied,

Taunt our inferiors, cheerfully deride

The dedicated imbeciles, and spit

Into their eyes just for the fun of it.

Nor can one help the exile, the old man

610Dying in a motel, with the loud fan

Revolving in the torrid prairie night

And, from the outside, bits of colored light

Reaching his bed like dark hands from the past

He suffocates and conjures in two tongues

The nebulae dilating in his lungs.

A wrench, a rift - that's all one can foresee.

Maybe one finds le grand neant; maybe

Again one spirals from the tuber's eye.

620As you remarked the last time we went by

The Institute: "I really could not tell

The differences between this place and Hell."

We heard cremationists guffaw and snort

At Grabermann's denouncing the Retort

As detrimental to the birth of wraiths.

We all avoided criticizing faiths.

The great Starover Blue reviewed the role

Planets had played as landfalls of the soul.

The fate of beasts was pondered. A Chinese

630Discanted on the etiquette at teas

With ancestors, and how far up to go.

I tore apart the fantasies of Poe,

And dealt with childhood memories of strange

Nacreous gleams beyond the adults' range.

Among our auditors were a young priest

And an old Communist. Iph could at least

Compete with churches and the party line.

In later years it started to decline:

Buddhism took root. A medium smuggled in

640Pale jellies and a floating mandolin.

Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept

All is allowed, into some classes crept;

And to fulfill the fish wish of the womb,

A school of Freudians headed for the tomb.

That tasteless venture helped me in a way.

I learnt what to ignore in my survey

Of death's abyss. And when we lost our child

I knew there would be nothing: no self-styled

Spirit would touch a keyboard of dry wood

650To rap out her pet name; no phantom would

Rise gracefully to welcome you and me

In the dark garden, near the shagbark tree.

"What is that funny creaking - do you hear?"

"It is the shutter on the stairs, my dear."

"If you're not sleeping, let's turn on the light.

I hate that wind! Let's play some chess." "All right."

"I'm sure it's not the shutter. There - again."

"It is a tendril fingering the pane."

"What glided down the roof and made that thud?"

660"It is old winter tumbling in the mud."

"And now what shall I do? My knight is pinned."

Who rides so late in the night and the wind?

It is the writer's grief. It is the wild

March wind. It is the father with his child.

Later came minutes, hours, whole days at last,

When she'd be absent from our thoughts, so fast

Did life, the woolly caterpillar run.

We went to Italy. Sprawled in the sun.

On a white beach with other pink or brown

670Americans. Flew back to our small town.

Found that my bunch of essays The Untamed

Seahorse was "universally acclaimed"

(It sold three hundred copies in one year).

Again school started, and on hillsides, where

Wound distant roads, one saw the steady stream

Of carlights all returning to the dream

Of college education. You went on

Translating into French Marvell and Donne.

It was a year of Tempests: Hurricane

680Lolita Swept from Florida to Maine.

Mars glowed. Shahs married. Gloomy Russians spied.

Lang made your portrait. And one night I died.

The Crashaw Club had paid me to discuss

Why Poetry Is Meaningful to Us.

I gave my sermon, a dull thing but short.

As I was leaving in some haste, to thwart

The so-called "question period" at the end,

One of those peevish people who attend

Such talks only to say they disagree

690Stood up and pointed with his pipe at me.

And then it happened - the attack, the trance,

Or one of my old fits. There sat by chance

A doctor in the front row. At his feet

Patly I fell. My heart had stopped to beat,

It seems, and several moments passed before

It heaved and went on trudging to a more

Conclusive destination.

Give me now

Your full attention. I can't tell you how

I knew - but I did know that I had crossed

700The border. Everything I loved was lost

But no aorta could report regret.

A sun of rubber was convulsed and set;

And blood-black nothingness began to spin

A system of cells interlinked within

Cells interlinked within cells interlinked

Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct

Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

I realized, of course, that it was made

Not of our atoms; that the sense behind

710The scene was not our sense. In life, the mind

Of any man is quick to recognize

Natural shams, and then before his eyes

The reed becomes a bird, the knobby twig

An inchworm, and the cobra head, a big

Wickedly folded moth. But in the case

Of my white fountain what it did replace

Perceptually was something that, I felt,

Could be grasped only by whoever dwelt

In the strange world where I was a mere stray.

720And presently I saw it melt away:

Though still unconscious I was back on earth.

The tale I told provoked my doctor's mirth.

He doubted very much that in the state

He found me in "one could hallucinate

Or dream in any sense. Later, perhaps,

But not during the actual collapse.

No, Mr. Shade." But, Doctor, I was dead!

He smiled. "Not quite: just half a shade," he said.

However, I demurred. In mind I kept

Replaying the whole thing. Again I stepped

730Down from the platform, and felt strange and hot,

And saw that chap stand up, and toppled, not

Because a heckler pointed with his pipe,

But probably because the time was ripe

For just that bump and wobble on the part

Of a limp blimp, an old unstable heart.

My vision reeked with truth. It had the tone,

The quiddity and quaintness of its own

Reality. It was. As time went on.

740Its constant vertical in triumph shone.

Often when troubled by the outer glare

Of street and strife, inward I'd turn, and there,

There in the background of my soul it stood,

Old Faithful! And its presence always would

Console me wonderfully. Then, one day,

I came across what seemed a twin display.

It was a story in a magazine

About a Mrs. Z. whose heart had been

Rubbed back to life by a prompt surgeon's hand.

750She told her interviewer of "The Land

Beyond the Veil" and the account contained

A hint of angels, and a glint of stained

Windows, and some soft music, and a choice

Of hymnal items, and her mother's voice;

But at the end she mentioned a remote

Landscape, a hazy orchard - and I quote:

"Beyond that orchard through a kind of smoke

I glimpsed a tall white fountain - and awoke."

If on some nameless island Captain Schmidt

760Sees a new animal and captures it,

And if, a little later, Captain Smith

Brings back a skin, that island is no myth.

Our fountain was a signpost and a mark

Objectively enduring in the dark,

Strong as a bone, substantial as a tooth,

And almost vulgar in its robust truth!

The article was by Jim Coates. To Jim

Forthwith I wrote. Got her address from him.

Drove west three hundred miles to talk to her.

770Arrived. Was met by an impassioned purr.

Saw that blue hair, those freckled hands, that rapt

Orchideous air - and knew that I was trapped.

"Who'd miss the opportunity to meet

A poet so distinguished?" It was sweet

Of me to come! I desperately tried

To ask my questions. They were brushed aside:

"Perhaps some other time." The journalist

Still had her scribblings. I should not insist.

She plied me with fruit cake, turning it all

780Into an idiotic social call.

"I can't believe," she said, "that it is you!

I loved your poem in the Blue Review.

That one about Mon Blon. I have a niece

Who's climbed the Matterhorn. The other piece

I could not understand. I mean the sense.

Because, of course, the sound - But I'm so dense!"

She was. I might have persevered. I might

Have made her tell me more about the white

Fountain we both had seen "beyond the veil"

790But if (I thought) I mentioned that detail

She'd pounce upon it, as upon a fond

Affinity, a sacramental bond,

Uniting mystically her and me,

And in a jiffy our two souls would be

Brother and sister trembling on the brink

Of tender incest. "Well," I said, "I think

It's getting late..."

I also called on Coates.

He was afraid he had mislaid her notes.

He took his article from a steel file:

800"It's accurate. I have not changed her style.

There's one misprint - not that it matters much:

Mountain, not fountain. The majestic touch."

Life Everlasting - based on a misprint!

I mused as I drove homeward: take the hint,

And stop investigating my abyss?

But all at once it dawned on me that this

Was the real point, the contrapuntal theme;

Just this: not text, but texture; not the dream

But a topsy-turvical coincidence,

810Not flimsy nonsense, but a web of sense.

Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find

Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind

Of correlated pattern in the game,

Plexed artistry, and something of the same

Pleasure in it as they who played it found.

It did not matter who they were. No sound,

No furtive light came from their involute

Abode, but there they were, aloof and mute,

Playing a game of worlds, promoting pawns

820To ivory unicorns and ebon fauns;

Kindling a long life here, extinguishing

A short one there; killing a Balkan king;

Causing a chunk of ice formed on a high

Flying airplane to plummet from the sky

And strike a farmer dead; hiding my keys,

Glasses or pipe. Coordinating these

Events and objects with remote events

And vanished objects. Making ornaments

Of accidents and possibilities.

830Stormcoated, I strode in: Sybil, it is

My firm conviction - "Darling, shut the door.

Had a nice trip?" Splendid - but what is more

I have returned convinced that I can grope

My way to some - to some - "Yes, dear?" Faint hope.

Canto Four

Now I shall spy on beauty as none has

Spied on it yet. Now I shall cry out as

None has cried out. Now I shall try what none

Has tried. Now I shall do what none has done.

And speaking of this wonderful machine:

840I'm puzzled by the difference between

Two methods of composing: A, the kind

Which goes on solely in the poet's mind,

A testing of performing words, while he

Is soaping a third time one leg, and B,

The other kind, much more decorous, when

He's in his study writing with a pen.

In method B the hand supports the thought,

The abstract battle is concretely fought.

The pen stops in mid-air, then swoops to bar

850A canceled sunset or restore a star,

And thus it physically guides the phrase

Toward faint daylight through the inky maze.

But method A is agony! The brain

Is soon enclosed in a steel cap of pain.

A muse in overalls directs the drill

Which grinds and which no effort of the will

Can interrupt, while the automaton

Is taking off what he has just put on

Or walking briskly to the corner store

860To buy the paper he has read before.

Why is it so? Is it, perhaps, because

In penless work there is no pen-poised pause

And one must use three hands at the same time,

Having to choose the necessary rhyme,

Hold the completed line before one's eyes,

And keep in mind all the preceding tries?

Or is the process deeper with no desk

To prop the false and hoist the poetesque?

For there are those mysterious moments when

870Too weary to delete, I drop my pen;

I ambulate - and by some mute command

The right word flutes and perches on my hand.

My best time is the morning; my preferred

Season, midsummer. I once overheard

Myself awakening while half of me

Still slept in bed. I tore my spirit free,

And caught up with myself - upon the lawn

Where clover leaves cupped the topaz of dawn,

And where Shade stood in nightshirt and one shoe.

880And then I realized that this half too

Was fast asleep; both laughed and I awoke

Safe in my bed as day its eggshell broke,

And robins walked and stopped, and on the damp

Gemmed turf a brown shoe lay! My secret stamp,

The Shade impress, the mystery inborn.

Mirages, miracles, midsummer morn.

Since my biographer may be too staid

Or know too little to affirm that Shade

Shaved in his bath, here goes: "He'd fixed a sort

890Of hinge-and-screw affair, a steel support

Running across the tub to hold in place

The shaving mirror right before his face

And with his toe renewing tap-warmth, he'd

Sit like a king there, and like Marat bleed."

The more I weigh, the less secure my skin;

In places it's ridiculously thin;

Thus near the mouth: the space between its wick

And my grimace, invites the wicked nick.

Or this dewlap: some day I must set free

900The Newport Frill inveterate in me.

My Adam's apple is a prickly pear:

Now I shall speak of evil and despair

As none has spoken. Five, six, seven, eight,

Nine strokes are not enough. Ten. I palpate

Through strawberry-and-cream the gory mess

And find unchanged that patch of prickliness.

I have my doubts about the one-armed bloke

Who in commercials with one gliding stroke

Clears a smooth path of flesh from ear to chin,

910Then wipes his face and fondly tries his skin.

I'm in the class of fussy bimanists.

As a discreet ephebe in tights assists

A female in an acrobatic dance,

My left hand helps, and holds, and shifts its stance.

Now I shall speak... Better than any soap

Is the sensation for which poets hope

When inspiration and its icy blaze,

The sudden image, the immediate phrase

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