Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020938, Mon, 1 Nov 2010 16:32:27 -0400

Re: ginkgo biloba
In our article on PF, Tiffany & I relate the Ginkgo poem to Goethe's. In
this context, your Gradus note (tree=3) is quite helpful. Shade is two
(himself and Kinbote) and Gradus makes tree. Thanks for the insight!

Matt Roth

>>> On 10/31/2010 at 5:25 PM, in message
<002801cb7942$67eabab0$2d6b15ac@ALEX1>, Alexey Sklyarenko
<skylark05@MAIL.RU> wrote:
In his Commentary (note to line 49) Kinbote quotes a quatrain from Shade's
poem "The Sacred Tree":

The ginkgo leaf, in golden hue, when shed,
A muscat grape,
Is an old-fashioned butterfly, ill-spread,
In shape.

Here is Goethe's poem "Ginkgo Biloba" from "The West-Eastern Divan":

Dieses Baumes Blatt, der von Osten
Meinem Garten anvertraut,
Gibt geheimen Sinn zu kosten,
Wie's den Wissenden erbaut.
Ist es ein lebendig Wesen,
Das sich in sich selbst getrennt?
Sind es zwei, die sich erlesen,
Daß man sie als eines kennt?
Solche Fragen zu erwidern
Fand ich wohl den rechten Sinn.
Fühlst du nicht an meinen Liedern,
Daß ich eins und doppelt bin?This leaf from a tree in the East,
Has been given to my garden.
It reveals a certain secret,
Which pleases me and thoughtful people.

Does it represent One living creature
Which has divided itself?
Or are these Two, which have decided,
That they should be as One?

To reply to such a Question,
I found the right answer:
Do you notice in my songs and verses
That I am One and Two?

At the end of the same note Kinbote remarks that 'tree' in Zemblan is
grados. Note that tri (pronounced rather like tree) is Russian for
"three" (S, K, G?) and radost' means"joy".
Alexey Sklyarenko

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