Karlie-Garlie & onhava-onhava in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Sun, 09/12/2021 - 13:45

Describing the death of Queen Blenda, Kinbote (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions the drunk who started to sing a ribald ballad about "Karlie-Garlie:"


Her he remembered - more or less: a horsewoman, tall, broad, stout, ruddy-faced. She had been assured by a royal cousin that her son would be safe and happy under the tutelage of admirable Mr. Campbell who had taught several dutiful little princesses to spread butterflies and enjoy Lord Ronald's Coronach. He had immolated his life, so to speak, at the portable altars of a vast number of hobbies, from the study of book mites to bear hunting, and could reel off Macbeth from beginning to end during hikes; but he did not give a damn for his charges' morals, preferred ladies to laddies, and did not meddle in the complexities of Zemblan ingledom. He left, for some exotic court, after a ten-year stay, in 1932 when our Prince, aged seventeen, had begun dividing his time between the University and his regiment. It was the nicest period in his life. He never could decide what he enjoyed more: the study of poetry - especially English poetry - or attending parades, or dancing in masquerades with boy-girls and girl-boys. His mother died suddenly on July 21, 1936, from an obscure blood ailment that had also afflicted her mother and grandmother. She had been much better on the day before - and Charles Xavier had gone to an all-night ball in the so-called Ducal Dome in Grindelwood: for the nonce, a formal heterosexual affair, rather refreshing after some previous sport. At about four in the morning, with the sun enflaming the tree crests and Mt. Falk, a pink cone, the King stopped his powerful car at one of the gates of the palace. The air was so delicate, the light so lyrical, that he and the three friends he had with him decided to walk through the linden bosquet the rest of the distance to the Pavonian Pavilion where guests were lodged. He and Otar, a platonic pal, wore tails but they had lost their top hats to the highway winds. A strange something struck all four of them as they stood under the young limes in the prim landscape of scarp and counterscarp fortified by shadow and countershadow. Otar, a pleasant and cultured adeling with a tremendous nose and sparse hair, had his two mistresses with him, eighteen-year-old Fifalda (whom he later married) and seventeen-year-old Fleur (whom we shall meet in two other notes), daughters of Countess de Fyler, the Queen's favorite lady in waiting. One involuntarily lingers over that picture, as one does when standing at a vantage point of time and knowing in retrospect that in a moment one's life would undergo a complete change. So here was Otar, looking with a puzzled expression at the distant window's of the Queen's quarters, and there were the two girls, side by side, thin-legged, in shimmering wraps, their kitten noses pink, their eyes green and sleepy, their earrings catching and loosing the fire of the sun. There were a few people around, as there always were, no matter the hour, at this gate, along which a road, connecting with the eastern highway, ran. A peasant woman with a small cake she had baked, doubtlessly the mother of the sentinel who had not yet come to relieve the unshaven dark young nattdett (child of night) in his dreary sentry box, sat on a spur stone watching in feminine fascination the luciola-like tapers that moved from window to window; two workmen, holding their bicycles, stood staring too at those strange lights; and a drunk with a walrus mustache kept staggering around and patting the trunks of the lindens. One picks up minor items at such slowdowns of life. The King noticed that some reddish mud flecked the frames of the two bicycles and that their front wheels were both turned in the same direction, parallel to one another. Suddenly, down a steep path among the lilac bushes - a short cut from the Queen's quarters - the Countess came running and tripping over the hem of her quilted robe, and at the same moment, from another side of the palace, all seven councilors, dressed in their formal splendor and carrying like plum cakes replicas of various regalia, came striding down the stairs of stone, in dignified haste, but she beat them by one alin and spat out the news. The drunk started to sing a ribald ballad about "Karlie-Garlie" and fell into the demilune ditch. It is not easy to describe lucidly in short notes to a poem the various approaches to a fortified castle, and so, in my awareness of this problem, I prepared for John Shade, some time in June, when narrating to him the events briefly noticed in some of my comments (see note to line 130, for example), a rather handsomely drawn plan of the chambers, terraces, bastions and pleasure grounds of the Onhava Palace. Unless it has been destroyed or stolen, this careful picture in colored inks on a large (thirty by twenty inches) piece of cardboard might still be where I last saw it in mid-July, on the top of the big black trunk, opposite the old mangle, in a niche of the little corridor leading to the so-called fruit room. If it is not there, it might be looked for in his upper-floor study. I have written about this to Mrs. Shade but she does not reply to my letters. In case it still exists, I wish to beg her, without raising my voice, and very humbly, as humbly as the lowliest of the King's subjects might plead for an immediate restitution of his rights (the plan is mine and is clearly signed with a black chess-king crown after "Kinbote"), to send it, well packed, marked not to be bent on the wrapper, and by registered mail, to my publisher for reproduction in later editions of this work. Whatever energy I possessed has quite ebbed away lately, and these excruciating headaches now make impossible the mnemonic effort and eye strain that the drawing of another such plan would demand. The black trunk stands on another brown or brownish even larger one, and there is I think a stuffed fox or coyote next to them in their dark corner. (note to Line 71)


Garlien is Zemblan for "girls:"


He [Charles Xavier] awoke to find her [Fleur de Fyler] standing with a comb in her hand before his - or rather, his grandfather's - cheval glass, a triptych of bottomless light, a really fantastic mirror, signed with a diamond by its maker, Sudarg of Bokay. She turned about before it: a secret device of reflection gathered an infinite number of nudes in its depths, garlands of girls in graceful and sorrowful groups, diminishing in the limpid distance, or breaking into individual nymphs, some of whom, she murmured, must resemble her ancestors when they were young – little peasant garlien combing their hair in shallow water as far as the eye could reach, and then the wistful mermaid from an old tale, and then nothing. (note to Line 80)


A mirror maker of genius, Sudarg of Bokay is Jakob Gradus in reverse. Shade's murderer, Gradus is a member of the Shadows (a regicidal organization). Zerklalo teney (“The Mirror of Shadows,” 1912) is a collection of poetry by Bryusov. In his poem Stokgol’m (“Stockholm,” 1906) Bryusov compares Stockholm to sosna Dalekarlii (a pine of Dalekarlien):


Словно над глубями зеркала
Ты из гранита возник,
В зыби стремительной Мэлара
Свой разбивая двойник.


Сын вечно женственной родины,
Весь ты в любимую мать!
Трудно ль в осанке усвоенной
Нежность души угадать!


Ты, как сосна Далекарлии, —
Строен, задумчив и прям.
Годы тебя не состарили,
Снегом скользнув по кудрям.


Витязь пленительный Севера,
Ты головой не поник!
Весело в зеркале Мэлара
Твой ускользает двойник.


The other name of Dalarna (a historical province in middle Sweden), Dalekarlien brings to mind daleko (Russian for “far away”) and karlik (Russian for “dwarf”). According to Kinbote, on his deathbed Conmal (the Zemblan translator of Shakespeare) called him “Karlik:”


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 fingers 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 Finnegans 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 Kongsskugg-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). (note to Line 12)


In Chekhov's story Moya zhizn' ("My Life," 1895) Masha says that art gives us wings and carries us daleko-daleko (far, far away):


— Мы от начала до конца были искренни, — сказал я, — а кто искренен, тот и прав.

— Кто спорит? Мы были правы, но мы неправильно осуществляли то, в чем мы правы. Прежде всего, самые наши внешние приемы — разве они не ошибочны? Ты хочешь быть полезен людям, но уже одним тем, что ты покупаешь имение, ты с самого начала преграждаешь себе всякую возможность сделать для них что-нибудь полезное. Затем, если ты работаешь, одеваешься и ешь, как мужик, то ты своим авторитетом как бы узаконяешь эту их тяжелую, неуклюжую одежду, ужасные избы, эти их глупые бороды... С другой стороны, допустим, что ты работаешь долго, очень долго, всю жизнь, что в конце концов получаются кое-какие практические результаты, но что они, эти твои результаты, что они могут против таких стихийных сил, как гуртовое невежество, голод, холод, вырождение? Капля в море! Тут нужны другие способы борьбы, сильные, смелые, скорые! Если в самом деле хочешь быть полезен, то выходи из тесного круга обычной деятельности и старайся действовать сразу на массу! Нужна прежде всего шумная, энергичная проповедь. Почему искусство, например, музыка, так живуче, так популярно и так сильно на самом деле? А потому, что музыкант или певец действует сразу на тысячи. Милое, милое искусство! — продолжала она, мечтательно глядя на небо. — Искусство дает крылья и уносит далеко-далеко! Кому надоела грязь, мелкие грошовые интересы, кто возмущен, оскорблен и негодует, тот может найти покой и удовлетворение только в прекрасном.


"We have been sincere from beginning to end," said I, "and if anyone is sincere he is right."

"Who disputes it? We were right, but we haven't succeeded in properly accomplishing what we were right in. To begin with, our external methods themselves -- aren't they mistaken? You want to be of use to men, but by the very fact of your buying an estate, from the very start you cut yourself off from any possibility of doing anything useful for them. Then if you work, dress, eat like a peasant you sanctify, as it were, by your authority, their heavy, clumsy dress, their horrible huts, their stupid beards. . . . On the other hand, if we suppose that you work for long, long years, your whole life, that in the end some practical results are obtained, yet what are they, your results, what can they do against such elemental forces as wholesale ignorance, hunger, cold, degeneration? A drop in the ocean! Other methods of struggle are needed, strong, bold, rapid! If one really wants to be of use one must get out of the narrow circle of ordinary social work, and try to act direct upon the mass! What is wanted, first of all, is a loud, energetic propaganda. Why is it that art -- music, for instance -- is so living, so popular, and in reality so powerful? Because the musician or the singer affects thousands at once. Precious, precious art!" she went on, looking dreamily at the sky. "Art gives us wings and carries us far, far away! Anyone who is sick of filth, of petty, mercenary interests, anyone who is revolted, wounded, and indignant, can find peace and satisfaction only in the beautiful." (Chapter XV)


The phrase daleko-daleko also occurs at the end of Chekhov's story Dama s sobachkoy (“The Lady with the Lapdog,” 1899):


Потом они долго советовались, говорили о том, как избавить себя от необходимости прятаться, обманывать, жить в разных городах, не видеться подолгу. Как освободиться от этих невыносимых пут?

- Как? Как? - спрашивал он, хватая себя за голову. - Как?

И казалось, что ещё немного - и решение будет найдено, и тогда начнётся новая, прекрасная жизнь; и обоим было ясно, что до конца ещё далеко-далеко и что самое сложное и трудное только ещё начинается.


Then they discussed their situation for a long time, trying to think how they could get rid of the necessity for hiding, deception, living in different towns, being so long without meeting. How were they to shake off these intolerable fetters?

“How? How?” he repeated, clutching his head. “How?”

And it seemed to them that they were within an inch of arriving at a decision, and that then a new, beautiful life would begin. And they both realized that the end was still far, far away, and that the hardest, the most complicated part was only just beginning. (chapter IV)


According to Kinbote, onhava-onhava means in Zemblan "far, far away:"


On the morning of July 16 (while Shade was working on the 698-746 section of his poem) dull Gradus, dreading another day of enforced inactivity in sardonically, sparkling, stimulatingly noisy Nice, decided that until hunger drove him out he would not budge from a leathern armchair in the simulacrum of a lobby among the brown smells of his dingy hotel. Unhurriedly he went through a heap of old magazines on a nearby table. There he sat, a little monument of taciturnity, sighing, puffing out his cheeks, licking his thumb before turning a page, gaping at the pictures, and moving his lips as he climbed down the columns of printed matter. Having replaced everything in a neat pile, he sank back in his chair closing and opening his gabled hands in various constructions of tedium - when a man who had occupied a seat next to him got up and walked into the outer glare leaving his paper behind. Gradus pulled it into his lap, spread it out - and froze over a strange piece of local news that caught his eye: burglars had broken into Villa Disa and ransacked a bureau, taking from a jewel box a number of valuable old medals.

Here was something to brood upon. Had this vaguely unpleasant incident some bearing on his quest? Should he do something about it? Cable headquarters? Hard to word succinctly a simple fact without having it look like a cryptogram. Airmail a clipping? He was in his room working on the newspaper with a safety razor blade when there was a bright rap-rap at the door. Gradus admitted an unexpected visitor – one of the greater Shadows, whom he had thought to be onhava-onhava ("far, far away"), in wild, misty, almost legendary Zembla! What stunning conjuring tricks our magical mechanical age plays with old mother space and old father time!

He was a merry, perhaps overmerry, fellow, in a green velvet jacket. Nobody liked him, but he certainly had a keen mind. His name, Izumrudov, sounded rather Russian but actually meant “of the Umruds,” an Eskimo tribe sometimes seen paddling their umyaks (hide-lined boats) on the emerald waters of our northern shores. Grinning, he said friend Gradus must get together his travel documents, including a health certificate, and take the earliest available jet to New York. Bowing, he congratulated him on having indicated with such phenomenal acumen the right place and the right way. Yes, after a thorough perlustration of the loot that Andron and Niagarushka had obtained from the Queen's rosewood writing desk (mostly bills, and treasured snapshots, and those silly medals) a letter from the King did turn up giving his address which was of all places -- Our man, who interrupted the herald of success to say he had never -- was bidden not to display so much modesty. A slip of paper was now produced on which Izumudrov, shaking with laughter (death is hilarious), wrote out for Gradus their client's alias, the name of the university where he taught, and that of the town where it was situated. No, the slip was not for keeps. He could keep it only while memorizing it. This brand of paper (used by macaroon makers) was not only digestible but delicious. The gay green vision withdrew - to resume his whoring no doubt. How one hates such men! (note to Line 741)


Onhava is the capital of Zembla (a distant northern land). Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. At the end of his poem “Stockholm” Bryusov says that Stockholm’s dvoynik (double) evades v zerkale Melara (in the mirror of Lake Mälaren). In fact, dvoynik is the poem’s last word. Shade’s poem is almost finished, when the author is killed by Gradus. Kinbote believes that, to be completed, Shade’s poem needs but one line (Line 1000, identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain”). But it seems that, like some sonnets, Shade’s poem also needs a coda (Line 1001: “By its own double in the windowpane”). Bryusov is the author of the sonnet-acrostic with a coda “To Igor Severyanin.” Igor Lotaryov’s pseudonym comes from sever (North). At the end of his poem Po spravedlivosti ("In All Fairness," 1918) Severyanin calls Lenin moy dvoynik (my double):


Его бесспорная заслуга

Есть окончание войны.

Его приветствовать, как друга

Людей, вы искренне должны.


Я – вне политики, и, право,

Мне все равно, кто б ни был он.

Да будет честь ему и слава,

Что мир им, первым, заключен.


Когда людская жизнь в загоне,

И вдруг – ее апологет,

Не все ль равно мне – как: в вагоне

Запломбированном иль нет?..


Не только из вагона – прямо

Пускай из бездны бы возник!

Твержу настойчиво-упрямо:

Он, в смысле мира, мой двойник.


The rhyme voznik (emerged) – dvoynik also occurs in the first stanza of Bryusov’s “Stockholm.” After the Zemblan Revolution Queen Disa (the wife of Charles the Beloved) attempted to return to Zembla via Stockholm:


In 1933, Prince Charles was eighteen and Disa, Duchess of Payn, five. The allusion is to Nice (see also line 240) where the Shades spent the first part of that year; but here again, as in regard to so many fascinating facets of my friend's past life, I am not in the possession of particulars (who is to blame, dear S. S.?) and not in the position to say whether or not, in the course of possible excursions along the coast, they ever reached Cap Turc and glimpsed from an oleander-lined lane, usually open to tourists, the Italianate villa built by Queen Disa's grandfather in 1908; and called then Villa Paradiso, or in Zemblan Villa Paradisa, later to forego the first half of its name in honor of his favorite granddaughter. There she spent the first fifteen summers of her life; thither did she return in 1953, "for reasons of health" (as impressed on the nation) but really, a banished queen; and there she still dwells.

When the Zemblan Revolution broke out (May 1, 1958), she wrote the King a wild letter in governess English, urging him to come and stay with her until the situation cleared up. The letter was intercepted by the Onhava police, translated into crude Zemblan by a Hindu member of the Extremist party, and then read aloud to the royal captive in a would-be ironic voice by the preposterous commandant of the palace. There happened to be in that letter one - only one, thank God - sentimental sentence: "I want you to know that no matter how much you hurt me, you cannot hurt my love," and this sentence (if we re-English it from the Zemblan) came out as: "I desire you and love when you flog me" He interrupted the commandant, calling him a buffoon and a rogue, and insulting everybody around so dreadfully that the Extremists had to decide fast whether to shoot him at once or let him have the original of the letter.

Eventually he managed to inform her that he was confined to the palace. Valiant Disa hurriedly left the Riviera and made a romantic but fortunately ineffectual attempt to return to Zembla. Had she been permitted to land, she would have been forthwith incarcerated, which would have reacted on the King's flight, doubling the difficulties of escape. A message from the Karlists containing these simple considerations checked her progress in Stockholm, and she flew back to her perch in a mood of frustration and fury (mainly, I think, because the message had been conveyed to her by a cousin of hers, good old Curdy Buff, whom she loathed). Several weeks passed and she was soon in a state of even worse agitation owing to rumors that her husband might be condemned to death. She left Cap Turc again. She had traveled to Brussels and chartered a plane to fly north, when another message, this time from Odon, came, saying that the King and he were out of Zembla, and that she should quietly regain Villa Disa and await there further news. In the autumn of the same year she was informed by Lavender that a man representing her husband would be coining to discuss with her certain business matters concerning property she and her husband jointly owned abroad. She was in the act of writing on the terrace under the jacaranda a disconsolate letter to Lavender when the tall, sheared and bearded visitor with the bouquet of flowers-of-the-gods who had been watching her from afar advanced through the garlands of shade. She looked up - and of course no dark spectacles and no make-up could for a moment fool her. 

Since her final departure from Zembla he had visited her twice, the last time two years before; and during that lapse of time her pale-skin, dark-hair beauty had acquired a new, mature and melancholy glow. In Zembla, where most females are freckled blondes, we have the saying: belwif ivurkumpf wid spew ebanumf, "A beautiful woman should be like a compass rose of ivory with four parts of ebony." And this was the trim scheme nature had followed in Disa's case. There was something else, something I was to realize only when I read Pale Fire, or rather reread it after the first bitter hot mist of disappointment had cleared before my eyes. I am thinking of lines 261-267 in which Shade describes his wife. At the moment of his painting that poetical portrait, the sitter was twice the age of Queen Disa. I do not wish to be vulgar in dealing with these delicate matters but the fact remains that sixty-year-old Shade is lending here a well-conserved coeval the ethereal and eternal aspect she retains, or should retain, in his kind noble heart. Now the curious thing about it is that Disa at thirty, when last seen in September 1958, bore a singular resemblance not, of course, to Mrs. Shade as she was when I met her, but to the idealized and stylized picture painted by the poet in those lines of Pale Fire. Actually it was idealized and stylized only in regard to the older woman; in regard to Queen Disa, as she was that afternoon on that blue terrace, it represented a plain unretouched likeness. I trust the reader appreciates the strangeness of this, because if he does not, there is no sense in writing poems, or notes to poems, or anything at all. (note to Lines 433-434)


Bryusov's poem Firval'shtettskoe ozero ("Lake Lucern," 1909) has an epigraph from Balmont: Firval'shtettskoe ozero - Roza Vetrov ("Lake Lucern is a Compass Rose):


Фирвальштеттское озеро — Роза Ветров…
К. Бальмонт

Отели, с пышными порталами,
Надменно выстроились в ряд
И, споря с вековыми скалами,
В лазурь бесстрастную глядят.

По набережной, под каштанами,
Базар всесветной суеты, —
Блеск под искусными румянами
В перл возведенной красоты.

Пересекая гладь бесцветную,
Дымят суда и здесь и там,
И, посягнув на высь запретную,
Краснеют флаги по горам.

И в час, когда с ночными безднами
Вершины смешаны в тени,
Оттуда — спор с лучами звездными
Ведут отельные огни.


Firval'dshtettskoe ozero - Roza Vetrov is the first line of Balmont's poem Golubaya roza ("The Blue Rose"):


Фирвальдштетское озеро – Роза Ветров,

Под ветрами колышутся семь лепестков.

Эта роза сложилась меж царственных гор

В изумрудно-лазурный узор.


Широки лепестки из блистающих вод,

Голубая мечта, в них качаясь, живет.

Под ветрами встает цветовая игра,

Принимая налет серебра.


Для кого расцвела ты, красавица вод?

Этой розы никто никогда не сорвет.

В водяной лепесток – лишь глядится живой,

Этой розе дивясь мировой.


Горы встали кругом, в снеге рады цветам,

Юной Девой одна называется там.

С этой Девой далекой ты слита Судьбой,

Роза-влага, цветок голубой.


Вы равно замечтались о горной весне.

Ваша мысль – в голубом, ваша жизнь – в белизне.

Дева белых снегов, голубых ледников,

Как идет к тебе Роза Ветров!


In the poem's fourth line Balmont mentions izumrudno-lazurnyi uzor (the pattern of emerald-and-azure). At the beginning of his poem Shade says that he was the shadow of the waxwing slain by the false azure in the windowpane. 


In his anti-Freudian essay Chto vsyakiy dolzhen znat'? ("What Everybody Should Know?" 1927) VN mentions Firval'dshtettskoe ozero:


Господа, проверяйте психоанализом ваши сны. Кому из нас не приходилось после сытных разговен, "орать во власти кошемара" или, после поездки на Фирвальдштетское озеро, видеть во сне Фирвальдштетское озеро? Но почему это бывает? А вот почему. Человек, съевший три четверти пасхи и ночью вступивший в борьбу с помесью сатира и мастодонта, находится под гнетом собственных неудовлетворенных желаний (эротических) Озеро значит то же самое.


In Canto Four of his poem Shade pairs Freud with Marx:


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,

Fake thinkers, puffed-up poets, frauds and sharks. (ll. 923-930)


Shakespeare's translator into Zemblan, Conmal is the Duke of Aros. Aros is an anagram of rosa (dew). Nebesnaya rosa (“Heavenly Dew,” 1895) is a poem by Balmont:


День погас, и ночь пришла.
В чёрной тьме душа светла.
В смерти жизнь, и тает смерть.
Неба гаснущая твердь
Новой вспыхнула красой:
Там серебряной росой,
В самой смерти жизнь любя,
Ночь усыпала себя.
Ходят Ангелы во мгле,

Cлёзы счастья шлют земле,
Славят светлого Творца, 
Любят, любят без конца.


By heavenly dew Balmont means the stars. The name of Zembla's capital, Onhava seems to hint at heaven. At the end of his poem Vozmezdie ("Retribution," 1910-21) Alexander Blok calls nebo (the sky, heaven) kniga mezhdu knig (the book between books). In the first line of his sonnet Zhenshchine ("To the Woman," 1899) Bryusov calls the woman kniga mezhdu knig:


Ты – женщина, ты – книга между книг,

Ты – свернутый, запечатленный свиток;

В его строках и дум и слов избыток,

В его листах безумен каждый миг.


Ты – женщина, ты – ведьмовский напиток!

Он жжет огнем, едва в уста проник;

Но пьющий пламя подавляет крик

И славословит бешено средь пыток.


Ты – женщина, и этим ты права.

От века убрана короной звездной,

Ты – в наших безднах образ божества!


Мы для тебя влечем ярем железный,

Тебе мы служим, тверди гор дробя,

И молимся – от века – на тебя!


Zvyozdnaya korona (the crown of stars) on the woman's head brings to mind the crown jewels vainly looked for by Andronnikov and Niagarin (the Soviet experts hired by the new Zemblan government).


In his memoir essay “Bryusov” (1925) Hodasevich compares Bryusov to Salieri and Balmont to Mozart:


Он не любил людей, потому что прежде всего не уважал их. Это во всяком случае было так в его зрелые годы. В юности, кажется, он любил Коневского. Не плохо он относился к 3. H. Гиппиус. Больше назвать некого. Его  неоднократно подчёркнутая любовь к Бальмонту вряд ли может быть названа любовью. В лучшем случае это было удивление Сальери перед Моцартом. Он любил называть Бальмонта братом. М. Волошин однажды сказал, что традиция этих братских чувств восходит к глубокой древности: к самому Каину.


In Pushkin’s little tragedy “Mozart and Salieri” (1830) Mozart uses the phrase nikto b (“none would”). Shade’s, Kinbote’s and Gradus’ “real” name seems to be Botkin, nikto b in reverse. An American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the tragic death of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade's "real" neme). In 1913 Bryusov's mistress Nadezhda Lvov (a young poet) committed suicide. In his memoir essay on Bryusov Hodasevich mentions Bryusov's hope (nadezhda) that under the Bolsheviks he would be able to turn Russian literature na stol'ko-to gradusov (to so-and-so many degrees):


А какая надежда на то, что в истории литературы будет сказано: "в таком-то году повернул русскую литературу на столько-то градусов".