Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026359, Fri, 14 Aug 2015 17:16:39 +0300

link-and-bobolink in Pale Fire
Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find
Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind
Of correlated pattern in the game,
Plexed artistry, and something of the same
Pleasure in it as they who played it found. (PF, ll. 811-15)

In Robert Browning's Mr. Sludge, 'The Medium' (1864) Sludge mentions a

I have presentiments; my dreams come true:

I fancy a friend stands whistling all in white

Blithe as a boblink, and he's dead, I learn. (ll. 1168-70)

boblink: or bobolink, American songbird, 'the happiest bird of our spring'

In the same Canto Three of PF Shade mentions his bunch of essays The Untamed

Found that my bunch of essay The Untamed
Seahorse was "universally accalimed"
(It sold three hundred copies in one year). (ll. 671-73)

Kinbote's note to ll. 671-72:

See Browning's 'My Last Duchess'.

See it and condemn the fashionable device of entitling a collection of
essays or a volume of poetry-or a long poem, alas-with a phrase lifted from
a more or less celebrated poetical work of the past. Such titles possess a
specious glamor acceptable maybe in the names of vintage wines and plump
courtesans but only degrading in regard to the talent that substitutes the
easy allusiveness of literacy for original fancy and shifts onto a bust's
shoulders the responsibility for ornateness since anybody can flip through a
Midsummer-Night's Dream or Romeo and Juliet, or, perhaps, the Sonnets and
take his pick.

The title Pale Fire is, of course, from Shakespeare's Timon of Athens:

The moon's an arrant thief,

And her pale fire she snatches from the sun" (Act IV, scene 3).

Kinbote(who has with him a tiny vest pocket edition of Timon of Athens in
Conmal's Zemblan translation) is a lunatic. Shade is a poet. A fragment from
a Midsummer-Night's Dream, "The lunatic, the lover and the poet..." (5,1),*
was translated into Russian by Tyutchev as "Lyubovniki, bezumtsy i poety:"
(1833). Shade's third collection of poetry had the title Hebe's Cup (l.
958). In his poem Vesennyaya groza ("The Spring Thunderstorm," 1828-51)
Tyutchev mentions Hebe who, feeding Zeus' eagle, poured from the heavens
onto the earth a goblet seething with thunder:

Ты скажешь: ветреная Геба,
Кормя Зевесова орла,
Громокипящий кубок с неба,
Смеясь, на землю пролила!

You'd think capricious Hebe,

feeding the eagle of Zeus,
had raised a thunder-foaming goblet,
unable to restrain her mirth,
and tipped it on the earth.

(transl. F. Jude)

Gromokipyashchiy kubok ("Thunder-Foaming Goblet," 1913) is the title of
Severyanin's collection. One of its poems, Gryozovoe tsarstvo ("The Dream
Kingdom"), begins: Ya - tsar' strany nesushchestvuyushchey (I am the king of
an inexistent country).

Tyutchev is the author of Spiritisticheskoe predskazanie ("A Spiritualistic
Prediction," 1853):

Дни настают борьбы и торжества,
Достигнет Русь завещанных границ.
И будет старая Москва
Новейшею из трех ее столиц.

Days of battle and solemnity will come.
Russia will regain the frontiers bequeathed to her
and old Moscow will be
the newest of the three capitals.

* The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

Are of imagination all compact.

One sees more devils than vast hell can hold-

That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,

Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.

The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Любовники, безумцы и поэты
Из одного воображенья слиты!..
Тот зрит бесов, каких и в аде нет
(Безумец, то есть); сей равно безумный,
Любовник страстный, видит, очарован,
Елены красоту в цыганке смуглой.
Поэта око, в светлом исступленье,
Круговращаясь, блещет и скользит
На землю с неба, на небо с земли -
И, лишь создаст воображенье виды
Существ неведомых, поэта жезл
Их претворяет в лица и даёт
Теням воздушным местность и названье!..

Alexey Sklyarenko

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