NABOKV-L post 0019283, Sat, 30 Jan 2010 19:32:44 -0200

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Re: Nabokov and Verlaine
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Hafid Bouazza: Reading Paul Verlaine's poem 'Aspiration', which begins thus: Cette vallée est triste et grise: un froid brouillard/Pèse sur elle..., I was struck by the following lines, in which the poet long for ces pleines...dont l'echo lointain, de mon coeur palpitant/ Trouble la fibre...I immediately recalled the following and well-known passage from Invitation To A Beaheading:There, tam, là-bas, the gaze of men glows with inimitable understanding [...]...There, there are the originals of those gardens where we used to roam and hide in this world; there everything strikes one by its bewitching evidence, by the simplicity of perfect good; there everything pleases one's soul, everything is filled with the kind of fun that children know; there shines the mirror that now and then sends a chance reflection here... (Chapter 8, p. 94, Firts Vintage Internatonal Edition, 1989)...Verlaine's poem is undoubtedly inspired by Charles Baudelaire's L'invitation au Voyage, but being aware of Nabokov's love for Verlaine's poetry, I wond whether this is a deliberate hommage or 'just' an allusion."

JM: After Rimbaud...Verlaine to carry us towards Nabokov's oft forgotten French poets, with occult "invitations" to "Arcady." Great link, Hafid.
Another kind of emotional outpour (here, here) carried me back to the English, through a tragi-comedy which details the death a young lady, the incestuous Ariadne, who immitated Sylvia Plath while borrowing some of her lines rather freely. Were it not for Ariadne I wouldn't have dreamt of returning to suicidal Plath.

The two poems (1961/62) which inspired Ariadne are "The Moon and the Yew Tree" and "Lady Lazarus". The lines were:
(a) This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary/ The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue./.../ The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,/.../ It drags the sea after it like a dark crime.../.../ And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence.
(b) I have done it again./ One year in every ten// The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?/ Soon, soon the flesh/ The grave cave ate will be/ At home on me/...What a trash/ To annihilate each decade./ What a million filaments./...These are my hands/ My knees./ I may be skin and bone,/...The first time it happened I was ten./... The second time I meant/ To last it out and not come back at all./.../ Dying/ Is an art, like everything else,/ I do it exceptionally well....

These poems establish an eerie atmosphere of bodily dissolution, near-death and fits, plus the art of dying, which have faint echoes in "Pale Fire."*
Kinote's notes to Lines 39-40 offer variant readings of Shakespeare and a sequence of misunderstandings and bunglings. Kinbote states that "Having no library in the desolate log cabin where I live...I am compelled for the purpose of quick citation to retranslate this passage into English prose from a Zemblan poetical version of Timon which, I hope, sufficiently approximates the text, or is at least faithful to its spirit: "The sun is a thief: she lures the sea/ and robs it. The moon is a thief:/ he steals his silvery light from the sun./ The sea is a thief: it dissolves the moon," which he relates to Shade's
"indoor scene, hickory leaves...Was printed on my eyelids' nether side/.../And while this lasted all I had to do/ Was close my eyes to reproduce the leaves/ Or indoor scene, or trophies of the eaves," with its curious echo of a palpebral paired "indoor scene," which will be described in an autobiographical paragraph in Strong Opinions and, much later, gain a particular significance in TOoL's "Dying is Fun," through Wild's self-effacement procedures.

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* - faint echoes sometimes work wonders, even though proven wrong - as it happened with the cunicular rabbitts and Aqua's doctors which I tried to link with "dracunculi" - only to discover that such "little dragons" and serpents referred to "rankling" festering wounds and ressentment.(heraldic dracuncles [like Rukka], in a novel with double uncles and their mirrorlike siblings?)

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