NABOKV-L post 0015709, Tue, 27 Nov 2007 15:55:20 -0500

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Re: Brian Boyd on Apples in PF
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Many thanks to Brian Boyd for his wonderful close reading of Shade's opening lines. What Brian's analysis highlights is how poets--perhaps especially formal poets--are often led forward by sound as much as by ideas. Nabokov, like Auden and a few others, is witty enough to conform the sound of his poems to his ideas, but we fail the poem and the author when we too easily move past the texture of the language itself in order to think about meaning.

As for whether or not the opening lines point to Shade's childhood, I tend to side with Sam Gwynn on this, though I have a hard time saying what part of his childhood. There is certainly a "then vs. now" theme that runs through the first Canto, and the past tense in the opening stanza puts these lines in the former category. But I suppose the "then" in this case could point to a more recent moment. Still, the exact moment when Shade felt himself to be the shadow of the waxwing slain is unclear. Some possibilities: he is reacting to the death of his parents; he is reacting to Hazel's suicide; he is referring to a change that occured in him as a result of his childhood (or adult) fits.

Matt Roth

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