NABOKV-L post 0026687, Mon, 7 Dec 2015 11:44:56 +0300

Will & light in Pale Fire
Dim Gulf was my first book (free verse); Night Rote
Came next; then Hebe's Cup, my final float
In that damp carnival, for now I term
Everything "Poems," and no longer squirm.
(But this transparent thingum does require
Some moondrop title. Help me, Will! Pale Fire.) (ll. 957-62)

Shade borrows the title of his poem from Shakespeare's Timon of Athens (Act
IV, Scene 3, Timon speaking to the thieves):

The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
Robs the vast sea: the moon's an arrant thief,

And her pale fire she snatches from the sun:
The sea's a thief:

A Titan who stole fire from Olympus, Prometheus too was a thief. In his poem
Kirchenrath Prometheus ("Consistory Member Prometheus," 1843) Heine says
that Paulus, the Professor of Theology at Heidelberg who published
Schelling's Lectures on Philosophy, stole the opposite of light, darkness.
In his poem Ni svetlym imenem bogov: ("Neither in the bright name of gods:"
1931) G. Ivanov says:

И тьма - уже не тьма, а свет.

И да - уже не да, а нет.

And darkness isn't darkness anymore, but light.

And yes is not anymore yes, but no.

In his poem Kak v Gretsiyu Bayron - o, bez sozhalen'ya: ("Like Byron to
Greece - oh, without regret:" 1928) G. Ivanov mentions blednyi ogon' (pale

Shade asks Shakespeare ("Will") to help him to find the title for his poem.
But "will" is also a noun. In his poem Menyaetsya prichyoska i kostyum:
("Hairdos and costumes change:") G. Ivanov mentions volya (will) and
compares the obscure modern poet to Homer:

Меняется причёска и костюм,

Но остаётся тем же наше тело,

Надежды, страсти, беспокойный ум,

Чья б воля изменить их ни хотела.

Слепой Гомер и нынешний поэт,

Безвестный, обездоленный изгнаньем,

Хранят один - неугасимый! - свет,

Владеют тем же драгоценным знаньем.

И черни, требующей новизны,

Он говорит: <Нет новизны. Есть мера,

А вы мне отвратительно-смешны,

Как варвар, критикующий Гомера>.

Hairdos and costumes change,

But our body remains the same,

And so do hopes, passions, restless mind,

Whosever will wanted to change them.

Blind Homer and the modern poet,

Obscure, impoverished by exile,

Keep one - inextinguishable! - light,

Possess the same precious knowledge.

And to the mob that demands novelty

He says: "There is no novelty, there is a measure,

And you repulsively ludicrous to me,

Like a barbarian criticizing Homer."

In the second stanza poet (in Russian, stressed on the second syllable)
rhymes with svet (light). In his poem G. Ivanov mentions nadezhdy (hopes).
The "real" name of Hazel Shade (Shade's daughter who committed suicide)
seems to be Nadezhda Botkin.

Btw., Prometheus (ca. 1773) is also a poem by Goethe.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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