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Набоков Владимир. Книга: [Proofed to line 1994]. Страница 6
Все книги писателя Набоков Владимир. Скачать книгу можно по ссылке s

Over the skin a triple ripple send

920Making the little hairs all stand on end

As in the enlarged animated scheme

Of whiskers mowed when held up by Our Cream.



Now I shall speak of evil as none has

Spoken before. I loathe such things as jazz;

The white-hosed moron torturing a black

Bull, rayed with red; abstractist bric-a-brac;

Primitivist folk-masks; progressive schools;

Music in supermarkets; swimming pools;

Brutes, bores, class-conscious Philistines, Freud, Marx,

930Fake thinkers, puffed-up poets, frauds and sharks.



And while the safety blade with scrape and screak

Travels across the country of my cheek;

Cars on the highway pass, and up the steep

Incline big trucks around my jawbone creep,

And now a silent liner docks, and now

Sunglassers tour Beirut, and now I plough

Old Zembla's fields where my gay stubble grows,

And slaves make hay between my mouth and nose.



Man's life as commentary to abstruse

940Unfinished poem. Note for further use.



Dressing in all the rooms, I rhyme and roam

Throughout the house with, in my fist, a comb

Or a shoehorn, which turns into the spoon

I eat my egg with. In the afternoon

You drive me to the library. We dine

At half past six. And that odd muse of mine,

My versipel, is with me everywhere,

In carrel and in car, and in my chair.



And all the time, and all the time, my love,

950You too are there, beneath the word, above

The syllable, to underscore and stress

The vital rhythm. One heard a woman's dress

Rustle in days of yore. I've often caught

The sound and sense of your approaching thought.

And all in you is youth, and you make new,

By quoting them, old things I made for you.



Dim Gulf was my first book (free verse); Night Rote

Came next; then Hebe's Cup, my final float

In that damp carnival, for now I term

960Everything "Poems," and no longer squirm.

(But this transparent thingum does require

Some moondrop title. Help me, Will! Pale Fire.)



Gently the day has passed in a sustained

Low hum of harmony. The brain is drained

And a brown ament, and the noun I meant

To use but did not, dry on the cement.

Maybe my sensual love for the consonne

D'appui, Echo's fey child, is based upon

A feeling of fantastically planned,

970Richly rhymed life.I feel I understand

Existence, or at least a minute part

Of my existence, only through my art,

In terms of combinational delight;

And if my private universe scans right,

So does the verse of galaxies divine

Which I suspect is an iambic line.

I'm reasonably sure that we survive

And that my darling somewhere is alive,

As I am reasonably sure that I

980Shall wake at six tomorrow, on July

The twenty-second, nineteen fifty-nine,

And that the day will probably be fine;

So this alarm clock let me set myself,

Yawn, and put back Shade's "Poems" on their shelf.



But it's not bedtime yet. The sun attains

Old Dr. Sutton's last two windowpanes.

The man must be - what? Eighty? Eighty-two?

Was twice my age the year I married you.

Where are you? In the garden. I can see

990Part of your shadow near the shagbark tree.

Somewhere horseshoes are being tossed. Click, Clunk.

(Leaning against its lamppost like a drunk.)

A dark Vanessa with crimson band

Wheels in the low sun, settles on the sand

And shows its ink-blue wingtips flecked with white.

And through the flowing shade and ebbing light

A man, unheedful of the butterfly -

Some neighbor's gardener, I guess - goes by

Trundling an empty barrow up the lane.









COMMENTARY



Lines 1-4: I was the shadow of the waxwing slain, etc.

The image in these opening lines evidently refers to a bird knocking itself out, in full flight, against the outer surface of a glass pane in which a mirrored sky, with its slightly darker tint and slightly slower cloud, presents the illusion of continued space. We can visualize John Shade in his early boyhood, a physically unattractive but otherwise beautifully developed lad, experiencing his first eschatological shock, as with incredulous fingers he picks up from the turf that compact ovoid body and gazes at the wax-red streaks ornamenting those gray-brown wings and at the graceful tail feathers tipped with yellow as bright as fresh paint. When in the last year of Shade's life I had the fortune of being his neighbor in the idyllic hills of New Wye (see Foreword), I often saw those particular birds most convivially feeding on the chalk-blue berries of junipers growing at the corner of his house. (See also lines 181-182.)

My knowledge of garden Aves had been limited to those of northern Europe but a young New Wye gardener, in whom I was interested (see note to line 998), helped me to identify the profiles of quite a number of tropical-looking little strangers and their comical calls; and, naturally, every tree top plotted its dotted line toward the ornithological work on my desk to which I would gallop from the lawn in nomenclatorial agitation. How hard I found to fit the name "robin" to the suburban impostor, the gross fowl, with its untidy dull-red livery and the revolting gusto it showed when consuming long, sad, passive worms!

Incidentally, it is curious to note that a crested bird called in Zemblan sampel ("silktail"); closely resembling a waxwing in shape and shade, is the model of one of the three heraldic creatures (the other two being respectively a reindeer proper and a merman azure, crined or) in the armorial bearings of the Zemblan King, Charles the Beloved (born 1915), whose glorious misfortunes I discussed so often with my friend.

The poem was begun at the dead center of the year, a few minutes after midnight July 1, while I played chess with a young Iranian enrolled in our summer school; and I do not doubt that our poet would have understood his annotator's temptation to synchronize a certain fateful fact, the departure from Zembla of the would-be regicide Gradus, with that date. Actually, Gradus left Onhava on the Copenhagen plane on July 5.







Line 12: that crystal land



Perhaps an allusion to Zembla, my dear country. After this, in the disjointed, half-obliterated draft which I am not at all sure I have deciphered properly:



Ah, I must not forget to say something

That my friend told me of a certain king.



Alas, he would have said a great deal more if a domestic anti-Karlist had not controlled every line he communicated to her! Many a time have I rebuked him in bantering fashion: "You really should promise to use all that wonderful stuff, you bad gray poet, you!" And we would both giggle like boys. But then, after the inspiring evening stroll, we had to part, and grim night lifted the drawbridge between his impregnable fortress and my humble home.

That King's reign (1936-1958) will be remembered by at least a few discerning historians as a peaceful and elegant one. Owing to a fluid system of judicious alliances, Mars in his time never marred the record. Internally, until corruption, betrayal, and Extremism penetrated it, the People's Place (parliament) worked in perfect harmony with the Royal Council. Harmony, indeed, was the reign's password. The polite arts and pure sciences flourished. Technicology, applied physics, industrial chemistry and so forth were suffered to thrive. A small skyscraper of ultramarine glass was steadily rising in Onhava. The climate seemed to be improving. Taxation had become a thing of beauty. The poor were getting a little richer, and the rich a little poorer (in accordance with what may be known some day as Kinbote's Law). Medical care was spreading to the confines of the state: less and less often, on his tour of the country, every autumn, when the rowans hung coral-heavy, and the puddles tinkled with Muscovy glass, the friendly and eloquent monarch would be interrupted by a pertussal "back-draucht" in a crowd of schoolchildren. Parachuting had become a popular sport. Everybody, in a word, was content - even the political mischiefmakers who were contentedly making mischief paid by a contented Sosed (Zembla's gigantic neighbor). But let us not pursue this tiresome subject.

To return to the King: take for instance the question of personal culture. How often is it that kings engage in some special research? Conchologists among them can be counted on the fngers of one maimed hand. The last king of Zembla - partly under the influence of his uncle Conmal, the great translator of Shakespeare (see notes to lines 39 - 40 and 962), had become, despite frequent migraines, passionately addicted to the study of literature. At forty, not long before the collapse of his throne, he had attained such a degree of scholarship that he dared accede to his venerable uncle's raucous dying request: "Teach, Karlik!" Of course, it would have been unseemly for a monarch to appear in the robes of learning at a university lectern and present to rosy youths Finnigans Wake as a monstrous extension of Angus MacDiarmid's "incoherent transactions" and of Southey's Lingo-Grande ("Dear Stumparumper," etc.) or discuss the Zemblan variants, collected in 1798 by Hodinski, of the Kongs-skugg-sio (The Royal Mirror), an anonymous masterpiece of the twelfth century. Therefore he lectured under an assumed name and in a heavy make-up, with wig and false whiskers. All brown-bearded, apple-checked, blue-eyed Zemblans look alike, and I who have not shaved now for a year, resemble my disguised king (see also note to line 894).

During these periods of teaching, Charles Xavier made it a rule to sleep at a pied-a-terre he had rented, as any scholarly citizen would, in Coriolanus Lane: a charming, central-heated studio with adjacent bathroom and kitchenette. One recalls with nostalgic pleasure its light gray carpeting and pearl-gray walls (one of them graced with a solitary copy of Picasso's Chandelier, pot et casserole emaillee), a shelfful of calf-bound poets, and a virginal-looking daybed under its rug of imitation panda fur. How far from this limpid simplicity seemed the palace and the odious Council Chamber with its unsolvable problems and frightened councilors!







Line 17: And then the gradual; Line 29: gray



By an extraordinary coincidence (inherent perhaps in the contrapuntal nature of Shade's art) our poet seems to name here (gradual, gray) a man, whom he was to see for one fatal moment three weeks later, but of whose existence at the time (July 2) he could not have known. Jakob Gradus called himself variously Jack Degree or Jacques de Grey, or James de Gray, and also appears in police records as Ravus, Ravenstone, and d'Argus. Having a morbid affection for the ruddy Russia of the Soviet era, he contended that the real origin of his name should be sought in the Russian word for grape, vinograd, to which a Latin suffix had adhered, making it Vinogradus. His father, Martin Gradus, had been a Protestant minister in Riga, but except for him and a maternal uncle (Roman Tselovalnikov, police officer and part-time member of the Social-Revolutionary party), the whole clan seems to have been in the liquor business. Martin Gradus died in 1920, and his widow moved to Strasbourg where she soon died, too. Another Gradus, an Alsatian merchant, who oddly enough was totally unrelated to our killer but had been a close business friend of his kinsmen for years, adopted the boy and raised him with his own children. It would seem that at one time young Gradus studied pharmacology in Zurich, and at another, traveled to misty vineyards as an itinerant wine taster. We find him next engaging in petty subversive activities - printing peevish pamphlets, acting as messenger for obscure syndicalist groups, organizing strikes at glass factories, and that sort of thing. Sometime in the forties he came to Zembla as a brandy salesman. There he married a publican's daughter. His connection with the Extremist party dates from its first ugly writhings, and when the revolution broke out, his modest organizational gifts found some appreciation in various offices. His departure for Western Europe, with a sordid purpose in his heart and a loaded gun in his pocket, took place on the very day that an innocent poet in an innocent land was beginning Canto Two of Pale Fire. We shall accompany Gradus in constant thought, as he makes his way from distant dim Zembla to green Appalachia, through the entire length of the poem, following the road of its rhythm, riding past in a rhyme, skidding around the corner of a run-on, breathing with the caesura, swinging down to the foot of the page from line to line as from branch to branch, hiding between two words (see note to line 596), reappearing on the horizon of a new canto, steadily marching nearer in iambic motion, crossing streets, moving up with his valise on the escalator of the pentameter, stepping off, boarding a new train of thought, entering the hall of a hotel, putting out the bedlight, while Shade blots out a word, and falling asleep as the poet lays down his pen for the night.







Line 27: Sherlock Holmes



A hawk-nosed, lanky, rather likable private detective, the main character in various stories by Conan Doyle. I have no means to ascertain at the present time which of these is referred to here but suspect that our poet simply made up this Case of the Reversed Footprints.







Lines 34-35: Stilettos of a frozen stillicide



How persistently our poet evokes images of winter in the beginning of a poem which he started composing on a balmy summer night! The mechanism of the associations is easy to make out (glass leading to crystal and crystal to ice) but the prompter behind it retains his incognito. One is too modest to suppose that the fact that the poet and his future commentator first met on a winter day somehow impinges here on the actual season. In the lovely line heading this comment the reader should note the last word. My dictionary defines it as "a succession of drops falling from the eaves, eavesdrop, cavesdrop." I remember having encountered it for the first time in a poem by Thomas Hardy. The bright frost has eternalized the bright eavesdrop. We should, also note the cloak-and-dagger hint-glint in the "svelte stilettos" and the shadow of regicide in the rhyme.


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