botelyi, Chapman's Homer, lazy Garh, Griff & raghdirst in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Fri, 03/01/2019 - 09:11

In his Index entry on Botkin, V. Kinbote (in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962, Shade’s mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) renders the obsolete word botelyi (fat, stout, obese, corpulent) as “big-bellied.” This epithet brings to mind tolstopuzyi (pot-bellied), a word used by Pushkin in the first line of his poem Rumyanyi kritik moy, nasmeshnik tolstopuzyi(“My ruddy-cheeked critic, pot-bellied scoffer,” 1830):

 

Румяный критик мой, насмешник толстопузый,
Готовый век трунить над нашей томной музой,
Поди-ка ты сюда, присядь-ка ты со мной,
Попробуй, сладим ли с проклятою хандрой.

Смотри, какой здесь вид: избушек ряд убогий,
За ними чернозём, равнины скат отлогий,
Над ними серых туч густая полоса.
Где нивы светлые? где тёмные леса?
Где речка? На дворе у низкого забора
Два бедных деревца стоят в отраду взора,
Два только деревца. И то из них одно
Дождливой осенью совсем обнажено,
И листья на другом, размокнув и желтея,
Чтоб лужу засорить, лишь только ждут Борея.
И только. На дворе живой собаки нет.
Вот, правда, мужичок, за ним две бабы вслед.
Без шапки он; несёт подмышкой гроб ребёнка
И кличет издали ленивого попёнка,
Чтоб тот отца позвал да церковь отворил.
Скорей! ждать некогда! давно бы схоронил.

Что ж ты нахмурился? — Нельзя ли блажь оставить!
И песенкою нас весёлой позабавить? —

Куда же ты? — В Москву, чтоб графских именин
Мне здесь не прогулять.
— Постой, а карантин!
Ведь в нашей стороне индейская зараза.
Сиди, как у ворот угрюмого Кавказа,
Бывало, сиживал покорный твой слуга;
Что, брат? уж не трунишь, тоска берёт — ага!

 

My ruddy-cheeked critic, pot-bellied scoffer,

Who's willing all his life to make fun of our languid muse,

Come here, sit down with me,

Let’s see if we can cope with the damned hyp...

 

Pushkin’s Sonet (“A Sonnet,” 1830) has the epigraph from Wordsworth: “Scorn not the sonnet, critic.” In his sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer (1816) Keats mentions stout Cortez:

 

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men

Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 

In his Universitetskaya poema ("The University Poem," 1927) VN says that to him the marble roses of Keats have more charm than all those stagey storms [in Byron’s poetry]:

 

А жил я в комнате старинной,
но в тишине её пустынной
тенями мало дорожил.
Держа московского медведя,
боксёров жалуя и бредя
красой Италии, тут жил
студентом Байрон хромоногий.
Я вспоминал его тревоги,--
как Геллеспонт он переплыл,
чтоб похудеть. Но я остыл
к
 его твореньям... Да простится
неромантичности моей,--
мне розы мраморные Китса
всех бутафорских бурь милей.

 

I lived within an antique chamber,
but, inside its desert silence,
I hardly savoured the shades’ presence.
Clutching his bear from Muscovy,
esteemed the boxer’s fate,
of Italic beauty dreaming
lame Byron passed his student days.
I remembered his distress –
his swim across the Hellespont
to lose some weight.
But I have cooled toward his creations…
so do forgive my unromantic side –
to me the marble roses of Keats
have more charm than all those stagey storms. (10)

 

In Canto One of his poem Shade (who lives in the frame house between Wordsmith and Goldsworth) describes Aunt Maud's room and mentions Chapman's Homer:

 

I was brought up by dear bizarre Aunt Maud,

A poet and a painter with a taste

For realistic objects interlaced

With grotesque growths and images of doom.

She lived to hear the next babe cry. Her room

We've kept intact. Its trivia create

A still life in her style: the paperweight

Of convex glass enclosing a lagoon,

The verse book open at the Index (Moon,

Moonrise, Moor, Moral), the forlorn guitar,

The human skull; and from the local Star

A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4

On Chapman's Homer, thumbtacked to the door. (ll. 86-98)

 

Describing the last moments of Shade’s life, Kinbote (who lives in Judge Goldsworth’s house) uses the word “demesne” (used by Keats in his sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer):

 

One minute before his death, as we were crossing from his demesne to mine and had begun working up between the junipers and ornamental shrubs, a Red Admirable (see note to line 270) came dizzily whirling around us like a colored flame. Once or twice before we had already noticed the same individual, at that same time, on that same spot, where the low sun finding an aperture in the foliage splashed the brown sand with a last radiance while the evening's shade covered the rest of the path. One's eyes could not follow the rapid butterfly in the sunbeams as it flashed and vanished, and flashed again, with an almost frightening imitation of conscious play which now culminated in its setting upon my delighted friend's sleeve. It took off, and we saw it next morning sporting in an ecstasy of frivolous haste around a laurel shrub, every now and then perching on a lacquered leaf and sliding down its grooved middle like a boy down the banister on his birthday. Then the tide of the shade reached the laurels, and the magnificent, velvet-and-flame creature dissolved in it. (note to Lines 993-995)

 

A little earlier Kinbote asks Shade if the muse was kind to him and mentions Browning and Keats:

 

"Well," I said, "has the muse been kind to you?"
"Very kind," he replied, slightly bowing his hand-propped head. "exceptionally kind and gentle. In fact, I have here [indicating a huge pregnant envelope near him on the oilcloth] practically the entire product. A few trifles to settle and [suddenly striking he table with his fist] I've swung it, by God."
The envelope, unfastened at one end, bulged with stacked cards.
"Where is the missus?" I asked (mouth dry).
"Help me, Charlie, to get out of here," he pleaded. "Foot gone to sleep. Sybil is at a dinner-meeting of her club."
"A suggestion," I said, quivering. "I have at my place half a gallon of Tokay. I'm ready to share my favorite wine with my favorite poet. We shall have for dinner a knackle of walnuts, a couple of large tomatoes, and a bunch of bananas. And if you agree to show me your 'finished product,' there will be another treat: I promise to divulge to you why I gave you, or rather who gave you, your theme."
"What theme?" said Shade absently, as he leaned on my arm and gradually recovered the use of his numb limb.
"Our blue inenubilable Zembla, and the red-capped Steinmann, and the motorboat in the sea cave, and -"
"Ah," said Shade, "I think I guessed your secret quite some time ago. But all the same I shall sample your wine with pleasure. Okay, I can manage by myself now."

Well did I know he could never resist a golden drop of this or that, especially since he was severely rationed at home. With an inward leap of exultation I relieved him of the large envelope that hampered his movements as he descended the steps of the porch, sideways, like a hesitating infant. We crossed the lawn, we crossed the road. Clink-clank, came the horseshoe music from Mystery Lodge. In the large envelope I carried I could feel the hard-cornered, rubberbanded batches of index cards. We are absurdly accustomed to the miracle of a few written signs being able to contain immortal imagery, involutions of thought, new worlds with live people, speaking, weeping, laughing. We take it for granted so simply that in a sense, by the very act of brutish routine acceptance, we undo the work of the ages, the history of the gradual elaboration of poetical description and construction, from the treeman to Browning, from the caveman to Keats. What if we awake one day, all of us, and find ourselves utterly unable to read? I wish you to gasp not only at what you read but at the miracle of its being readable (so I used to tell my students). Although I am capable, through long dabbling in blue magic, of imitating any prose in the world (but singularly enough not verse - I am a miserable rhymester), I do not consider myself a true artist, save in one matter: I can do what only a true artist can do - pounce upon the forgotten butterfly of revelation, wean myself abruptly from the habit of things, see the web of the world, and the warp and the weft of that web. Solemnly I weighed in my hand what I was carrying under my left armpit, and for a moment, I found myself enriched with an indescribable amazement as if informed that fireflies were making decodable signals on behalf of stranded spirits, or that a bat was writing a legible tale of torture in the bruised and branded sky.
I was holding all Zembla pressed to my heart. (note to Line 991)

 

According to Kinbote, he is a strict vegetarian. In the Dahl dictionary (found by VN upon a magic counter in Cambridge) botelyi (an adjective that comes from botet’, “to grow fat”) is a subentry of the main entry botva (leafy tops of root vegetables), a noun related to botet' and botelyi. The green botva brings to mind ravnodushnaya priroda (the indifferent nature) that in Pushkin’s poem Brozhu li ya vdol’ ulits shumnykh… (“Whether I wander along noisy streets,” 1829) will shine with the eternal beauty after the poet’s death, and lopukh iz menya vyrastet (a burdock will grow out of me), Bazarov’s words in Turgenev’s novel Ottsy i deti (“Fathers and Children,” 1862).

 

Kinbote carries the envelope with Shade’s poem under his left armpit. In his poem “My ruddy-cheeked critic, pot-bellied scoffer” Pushkin mentions muzhichok (a small peasant) who carries under his armpit a coffin with his child and from afar hails the priest’s lazy son, asking him to call his father so that the latter would open the church. Lenivyi popyonok (the priest's lazy son) brings to mind lazy Garh, the farmer's daughter who shows to the King the shortest way to the pass:

 

The gnarled farmer and his plump wife who, like personages in an old tedious tale offered the drenched fugitive a welcome shelter, mistook him for an eccentric camper who had got detached from his group. He was allowed to dry himself in a warm kitchen where he was given a fairy-tale meal of bread and cheese, and a bowl of mountain mead. His feelings (gratitude, exhaustion, pleasant warmth, drowsiness and so on) were too obvious to need description. A fire of larch roots crackled in the stove, and all the shadows of his lost kingdom gathered to play around his rocking chair as he dozed off between that blaze and the tremulous light of a little earthenware cresset, a beaked affair rather like a Roman lamp, hanging above a shelf where poor beady baubles and bits of nacre became microscopic soldiers swarming in desperate battle. He woke up with a crimp in the neck at the first full cowbell of dawn, found his host outside, in a damp corner consigned to the humble needs of nature, and bade the good grunter (mountain farmer) show him the shortest way to the pass. "I'll rouse lazy Garh," said the farmer.

A rude staircase led up to a loft. The farmer placed his gnarled hand on the gnarled balustrade and directed toward the upper darkness a guttural call: "Garh! Garh!" Although given to both sexes, the name is, strictly speaking, a masculine one, and the King expected to see emerge from the loft a bare-kneed mountain lad like a tawny angel. Instead there appeared a disheveled young hussy wearing only a man's shirt that came down to her pink shins and an oversized pair of brogues. A moment later, as in a transformation act, she reappeared, her yellow hair still hanging lank and loose, but the dirty shirt replaced by a dirty pullover, and her legs sheathed in corduroy pants. She was told to conduct the stranger to a spot from which he could easily reach the pass. A sleepy and sullen expression blurred whatever appeal her snub-nosed round face might have had for the local shepherds; but she complied readily enough with her father's wish. His wife was crooning an ancient song as she busied herself with pot and pan.

Before leaving, the King asked his host, whose name was Griff, to accept an old gold piece he chanced to have in his pocket, the only money he possessed. Griff vigorously refused and, still remonstrating, started the laborious business of unlocking and unbolting two or three heavy doors. The King glanced at the old woman, received a wink of approval, and put the muted ducat on the mantelpiece, next to a violet seashell against which was propped a color print representing an elegant guardsman with his bare-shouldered wife - Karl the Beloved, as he was twenty odd years before, and his young queen, an angry young virgin with coal-black hair and ice-blue eyes.

The stars had just faded. He followed the girl and a happy sheepdog up the overgrown trail that glistened with the ruby dew in the theatrical light of an alpine dawn. The very air seemed tinted and glazed. A sepulchral chill emanated from the sheer cliff along which the trail ascended; but on the opposite precipitous side, here and there between the tops of fir trees growing below, gossamer gleams of sunlight were beginning to weave patterns of warmth. At the next turning this warmth enveloped the fugitive, and a black butterfly came dancing down a pebbly rake. The path narrowed still more and gradually deteriorated amidst a jumble of boulders. The girl pointed to the slopes beyond it. He nodded. "Now go home," he said. "I shall rest here and then continue alone."

He sank down on the grass near a patch of matted elfinwood and inhaled the bright air. The panting dog lay down at his feet. Garh smiled for the first time. Zemblan mountain girls are as a rule mere mechanisms of haphazard lust, and Garh was no exception. As soon as she had settled beside him, she bent over and pulled over and off her tousled head the thick gray sweater, revealing her naked back and blancmange breasts, and flooded her embarrassed companion with ail the acridity of ungroomed womanhood. She was about to proceed with her stripping but he stopped her with a gesture and got up. He thanked her for all her kindness. He patted the innocent dog; and without turning once, with a springy step, the King started to walk up the turfy incline. (note to Line 149)

 

An anagram of ragh (Zemblan for "revenge"), Garh brings to mind raghdirst (thirst for revenge) mentioned by Kinbote:

 

But perhaps the funniest note concerned the manipulations of the window curtains which had to be drawn in different ways at different hours to prevent the sun from getting at the upholstery. A description of the position of the sun, daily and seasonal, was given for the several windows, and if I had heeded all this I would have been kept as busy as a participant in a regatta. A footnote, however, generously suggested that instead of manning the curtains, I might prefer to shift and reshift out of sun range the more precious pieces of furniture (two embroidered armchairs and a heavy "royal console") but should do it carefully lest I scratch the wall moldings. I cannot, alas, reproduce the meticulous schedule of these transposals but seem to recall that I was supposed to castle the long way before going to bed and the short way first thing in the morning. My dear Shade roared with laughter when I led him on a tour of inspection and had him find some of those bunny eggs for himself. Thank God, his robust hilarity dissipated the atmosphere of damnum infectum in which I was supposed to dwell. On his part, he regaled me with a number of anecdotes concerning the judge's dry wit and courtroom mannerisms; most of these anecdotes were doubtless folklore exaggerations, a few were evident inventions, and all were harmless. He did not bring up, my sweet old friend never did, ridiculous stories about the terrifying shadows that Judge Goldsworth's gown threw across the underworld, or about this or that beast lying in prison and positively dying of raghdirst (thirst for revenge) - crass banalities circulated by the scurrilous and the heartless - by all those for whom romance, remoteness, sealskin-lined scarlet skies, the darkening dunes of a fabulous kingdom, simply do not exist. But enough of this. Let us turn to our poet's windows. I have no desire to twist and batter an unambiguous apparatus criticus into the monstrous semblance of a novel. (note to Lines 47-48)

 

In his poem Na smert' poeta ("On the Poet's Death," 1837) Lermontov says that Pushkin died s svintsom v grudi i zhazhdoy mesti (with a bullet in his breast and a thirst for revenge). On his deathbed Pushkin (who was mortally wounded in a duel with d'Anthès) asked to give Grech (one of the editors of "Northern Bee") his apologies that he could not attend the funeral of Grech's son. There is Grech in grecheskiy (Greek) and Grechanka (a Greek woman). Grechanke ("To a Greek Woman," 1822) is a poem by Pushkin addressed to Calypso Polychroni (who is believed to have been Byron's mistress in Constantinople). The name Grech rhymes with rech' (speech) and, like Griff (Garh's father), grunter (mountain farmer) and Gradus, begins with Gr. The name Griff seems to hint at Dr. Griffin, the main character in H. G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man (1897). In Pushkin's "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (1820) Lyudmila finds a magic cap that makes her invisible. The King's red cap makes him conspicuous, but it helps him to escape from Zembla, because some forty of his followers, who are also clad in red, impersonate him and ape his flight. A regicidal organization which commissioned Gradus to assassinate the self-banished king, the Shadows seem to hint at Russia in the Shadows (1921), a series of articles written by H. G. Wells after his visit to the Soviet Russia and meeting with Lenin at the Kremlin in the fall 1920. In his Commentary Kinbote mockingly calls Gradus Vinogradus and Leningradus:

 

All this is as it should be; the world needs Gradus. But Gradus should not kill things. Vinogradus should never, never provoke God. Leningradus should not aim his peashooter at people even in dreams, because if he does, a pair of colossally thick, abnormally hairy arms will hug him from behind and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. (note to Line 171)

 

According to Kinbote (note to Line 17), Gradus contended that the real origin of his name should be sought in the Russian word for grape, vinograd, to which a Latin suffix had adhered, making it Vinogradus. Vinograd ("The Grapes," 1824) is a poem by Pushkin.

 

Raghdirst brings to mind a Zemblan saying quoted by Kinbote at the end of his Commentary:

 

Many years ago--how many I would not care to say--I remember my Zemblan nurse telling me, a little man of six in the throes of adult insomnia: "Minnamin, Gut mag alkan, Pern dirstan" (my darling, God makes hungry, the Devil thirsty). Well, folks, I guess many in this fine hall are as hungry and thirsty as me, and I'd better stop, folks, right here. (note to Line 1000)

 

Zemblan for “devil,” Pern hints at Perun, the Slavic god of thunder mentioned by Pushkin in Pesn' o veshchem Olege ("The Song of Wise Oleg,” 1822):

 

Из тёмного леса навстречу ему
Идёт вдохновенный кудесник,
Покорный Перуну старик одному,
Заветов грядущего вестник,
В мольбах и гаданьях проведший весь век.
И к мудрому старцу подъехал Олег.

 

According to Kinbote, the King escaped from the palace by the secret passage that he discovered and investigated with his beloved playmate Oleg (who was killed at fifteen in a toboggan accident). Oleg is the son of Colonel Peter Gusev, King Alfin's 'aerial adjutant.' Gusev (1890) is a story by Chekhov, the writer whom Shade lists among Russian humorists:

 

Speaking of the Head of the bloated Russian Department, Prof. Pnin, a regular martinet in regard to his underlings (happily, Prof. Botkin, who taught in another department, was not subordinated to that grotesque "perfectionist"): "How odd that Russian intellectuals should lack all sense of humor when they have such marvelous humorists as Gogol, Dostoevski, Chekhov, Zoshchenko, and those joint authors of genius Ilf and Petrov." (note to Line 172)

 

In VN’s novel Pnin (1957) Pnin tries to explain to the class Pushkin’s poem “Whether I wander along noisy streets:”

 

On the chalk-clouded blackboard, which he wittily called the greyboard, he now wrote a date. In the crook of his arm he still felt the bulk of Zol. Fond Lit. The date he wrote had nothing to do with the day this was in Waindell:

December, 26, 1829

He carefully drilled in a big white full stop, and added underneath:

3.03 p.m. St Petersburg

Dutifully this was taken down by Frank Backman, Rose Balsamo, Frank Carroll, Irving D. Herz, beautiful, intelligent Marilyn Hohn, John Mead, Jr, Peter Volkov, and Allan Bradbury Walsh.
Pnin, rippling with mute mirth, sat down again at his desk: he had a tale to tell. That line in the absurd Russian grammar, 'Brozhu li ya vdol' ulits shumnïh (Whether I wander along noisy streets),' was really the opening of a famous poem. Although Pnin was supposed in this Elementary Russian class to stick to language exercises ('Mama, telefon! Brozhu li ya vdol' ulits shumnïh. Ot Vladivostoka do Vashingtona 5000 mil'.'), he took every opportunity to guide his students on literary and historical tours.
In a set of eight tetrametric quatrains Pushkin described the morbid habit he always had - wherever he was, whatever he was doing - of dwelling on thoughts of death and of closely inspecting every passing day as he strove to find in its cryptogram a certain 'future anniversary': the day and month that would appear, somewhere, sometime upon his tombstone.
'"And where will fate send me", imperfective future, "death",' declaimed inspired Pnin, throwing his head back and translating with brave literality, '"in fight, in travel, or in waves? Or will the neighbouring dale" - dolina, same word, "valley" we would now say - "accept my refrigerated ashes", poussière, "cold dust" perhaps more correct. And though it is indifferent to the insensible body..."'
Pnin went on to the end and then, dramatically pointing with the piece of chalk he still held, remarked how carefully Pushkin had noted the day and even the minute of writing down that poem.
'But,' exclaimed Pnin in triumph, 'he died on a quite, quite different day! He died -' The chair back against which Pnin was vigorously leaning emitted an ominous crack, and the class resolved a pardonable tension in loud young laughter. (Chapter Three, 3)

 

Pushkin's poem Iz Pindemonti ("From Pindemonte," 1836) is marked in the draft "July 5." According to Kinbote, Shade began Canto Two of his poem on July 5, 1959 (Shade's sixty-first birthday). Shade’s birthday, July 5, is also Kinbote’s and Gradus’ birthday (Shade, who was born in 1898, is seventeen years Kinbote's and Gradus' senior). In a letter of Oct. 31, 1838 (Dostoevski’s seventeenth birthday), to his brother Dostoevski twice repeats the word gradus (degree) and mentions priroda (nature):

 

Философию не надо полагать простой математической задачей, где неизвестное - природа... Заметь, что поэт в порыве вдохновенья разгадывает бога, следовательно, исполняет назначенье философии. Следовательно, поэтический восторг есть восторг философии... Следовательно, философия есть та же поэзия, только высший градус её!..

Philosophy should not be regarded as a mere equation where nature is the unknown quantity… Remark that the poet, in the moment of inspiration, comprehends God, and consequently does the philosopher’s work. Consequently poetic inspiration is nothing less than philosophical inspiration. Consequently philosophy is nothing but poetry, a higher degree of poetry!..

 

Друг мой! Ты философствуешь как поэт. И как не ровно выдерживает душа градус вдохновенья, так не ровна, не верна и твоя философия. Чтоб больше знать, надо меньше чувствовать, и обратно, правило опрометчивое, бред сердца.

My friend, you philosophize like a poet. And just because the soul cannot be forever in a state of exaltation [gradus vdokhnoven'ya, a phrase used by Dostoevski, means "a degree of inspiration"], your philosophy is not true and not just. To know more one must feel less, and vice versa. Your judgment is featherheaded – it is a delirium of the heart.

 

Vsyo eto, vidite l', slova, slova, slova (all this is merely "words, words, words" you see), a line in Pushkin's poem "From Pindemonte," is a reference to Hamlet. In his famous monologue in Shakespeare's play (3.1) Hamlet mentions a bare bodkin. In his Index entry on Botkin, V. Kinbote mentions "botkin or bodkin, a Danish stiletto."

 

In his poem Ya – Gamlet. Kholodeet krov’… (“I’m Hamlet. Freezes blood…” 1914) Alexander Blok identifies himself with Hamlet and compares his wife to Ophelia:

 

Я — Гамлет. Холодеет кровь,
Когда плетёт коварство сети,
И в сердце — первая любовь
Жива — к единственной на свете.

Тебя, Офелию мою,
Увел далёко жизни холод,
И гибну, принц, в родном краю
Клинком отравленным заколот.

 

In his Pushkin speech O naznachenii poeta (“On a Poet’s Destination,” 1921) Blok quotes Pushkin’s poem “From Pindemonte:”

 

Не будем сегодня, в день, отданный памяти Пушкина, спорить о том, верно или неверно отделял Пушкин свободу, которую мы называем личной, от свободы, которую эта называем политической. Мы знаем, что он требовал «иной», «тайной» свободы. По-вашему, она «личная»; но для поэта это не только личная свобода:

 

                                              ...Никому
Отчёта не давать; себе лишь самому
Служить и угождать; для власти, для ливрея
Не гнуть ни совести, ни помыслов, ни шеи;
По прихоти своей скитаться здесь и там,
Дивясь божественным природы красотам,
И пред созданьями искусств и вдохновенья —
Безмолвно утопать, в восторгах умиленья —
Вот счастье! Вот права!..

 

                                                But to dance
To no one else's fiddle, foster and advance
one's private self alone; before gold braid and power
with neither conscience, thought, nor spine to cower;
to move now here, now there with fancy's whim for law,
at Nature's godlike works feel ecstasy and awe,
and start before the gifts of art and joyous adoration -
there's bliss for you! There are your rights ...
(tr. W. Arndt)

 

In the fragments of his poem Russkiy bred ("Russian Delirium," 1919) Blok mentions tolstopuzye meshchane (pot-bellied Philistines):

 

Есть одно, что в ней скончалось
Безвозвратно,
Но нельзя его оплакать
И нельзя его почтить,
Потому что там и тут
В кучу сбившиеся тупо
Толстопузые мещане
Злобно чтут
Дорогую память трупа —
Там и тут,
Там и тут...

 

In his diary (the entry of Aug. 30, 1918) Blok mentions his dvoyniki (doppelgangers), drugoe ya (alter ego) and Botkinskiy period (the Botkin period) of his life:

 

К ноябрю началось явное моё колдовство, ибо я вызвал двойников  ("Зарево белое...", "Ты - другая, немая...").

Любовь Дмитриевна ходила на уроки к М. М. Читау, я же ждал ее выхода, следил за ней и иногда провожал ее до Забалканского с Гагаринской - Литейной (конец ноября, начало декабря). Чаще, чем со мной, она встречалась с кем-то - кого не видела и о котором я знал.

Появился мороз, "мятель", "неотвязный" и царица, звенящая дверь, два старца, "отрава" (непосланных цветов), свершающий и пользующийся плодами свершений ("другое я"), кто-то "смеющийся и нежный". Так кончился 1901 год.

Тут - Боткинский период.

 

According to G. Ivanov (who mentions blednyi ogon', "pale fire," in his poem "Like Byron to Greece - o, without regret," 1927), to his question “does a sonnet need a coda,” Blok replied that he did not know what a coda is:

 

— Александр Александрович, нужна ли кода к сонету? — спросил я как-то. К моему изумлению, Блок, знаменитый «мэтр», вообще не знал, что такое кода…

 

In his fragment Rim (“Rome,” 1842) Gogol mentions sonetto colla coda and in a footnote explains that in Italian poetry there is a kind of poem known as “sonnet with the tail” (con la coda), when the idea cannot not be expressed in fourteen lines and entails an appendix that can be longer than the sonnet itself:

 

В италиянской поэзии существует род стихотворенья, известного под именем сонета с хвостом (con la coda), когда мысль не вместилась и ведёт за собою прибавление, которое часто бывает длиннее самого сонета.

 

Kinbote believes that, to be completed, Shade’s almost finished poem needs but one line (Line 1000, identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain”). But it seems that Shade's poem also needs a coda (Line 1001: “By its own double in the windowpane”). Dvoynik ("The Double") is a short novel (1846) by Dostoevski and a poem (1909) by Blok. 

 

Kinbote completes his work on Shade's poem and commits suicide on Oct. 19, 1959 (the anniversary of Pushkin's Lyceum). There is a hope that, after Kinbote's death, Professor Vsevolod Botkin (an American scholar of Russian descent who went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the tragic death of his daughter Nadezhda), like Count Vorontsov (a target of Pushkin's epigrams, “half-milord, half-merchant, etc.”), will be full again.