NABOKV-L post 0019346, Sun, 7 Feb 2010 14:28:47 +1300

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Re: [NABOKOV-L] Incidental Nabokov and a confession
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Interesting that the very sonnet Jansy chooses should be the one that in my forthcoming essay on the "pale Fire" poem I discuss in depth comparing the intensity of patterning in Shakespeare's sonnets and in Shade--where the latter, I must say, shows more intensity and in more dimensions.

Brian Boyd

On 7/02/2010, at 7:24 AM, jansymello wrote:


It all began for me when a nagging cadence (that scanned my private universe) carried me away from Shade's Canto Four and its unfulfilled promises and broken sentences:
Now I shall spy on beauty as none has
Spied on it yet. Now I shall cry out as
None has cried out. Now I shall try what none
Has tried. Now I shall do what none has done.
.............................
[...] Now I shall speak of evil and despair/ As none has spoken...
[...] Now I shall speak...
[...]Now I shall speak of evil as none has/ Spoken before..."

Shade's lines, for all their discipline, are unlike the couple of flowing lines from Shakespeare, which came to my mind ( as they often do) when I stumble into his poem. For example:... "Then can I grieve at grievances foregone."... After all, Shade cannot stop and stress "none" in the first verse and he goes on, to recover himself in the next, and then again and again.
He spies and cries and tries until he will achieve something "none has done." He may surpass his antecessors when he "speaks of evil" but, for all his accomplishments, Shade doesn't..."sing!"

Does he refrain from singing by any special design or modesty, content to rest in WS's "pale fire"*?
In the play "Midsummer Night's Dream," there's Titania and her powerful blessing: "O, sing, as none before thee ever sung, /As never mortal after thee shall sing !" and Oberon: "O sing, as none before thee ever sung, /As never mortal after thee shall sing ! [...] Let thy renown survive [...]And envy, say, " Would I had Shakespeare been !"

Shade's "flowerlets," in Canto Three, make an appearance (connected to a hope for immortality) when Puck describes the approaching night ( glow-worms, their pale fire dimmed in Hamlet, disappear by sunrise **): "The Glow-worm now lights up her em'rald lamp ;/ Bright crystal dews fill every flow'ret's cup[...] Now shall I lure some wand'rer from his way ?" and Puck, too, indicates his impish plans.

There must be thousands of lines in Shakespeare, and in other poets, starting with "Now I shall...." but these were the ones that (puckishly?) haunted me.

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* At the end of Canto Four..."But this transparent thingum does require/ Some moondrop title. Help me, Will! Pale Fire."

** "The glow-worm shows the matin to be near, And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire," (first mentioned by Peter Lubin, 1970, “Kickshaw and Motley,"A.Appel & Newman ed.)
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