Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025322, Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:44:00 -0400

Possibly the most beautiful thing I've ever read :

“After coughing myself inside out, I rested a while on a
boulder, and then, thinking the sweet air might do me good, walked a little way
toward a low stone parapet on the precipice side of the highway. Small grasshoppers spurted out of the
withered roadside weeds. A very light
cloud was opening its arms and moving toward a slightly more substantial one
belongint to another, more sluggish, heavenlogged system. As I approached the friendly abyss, I grew
aware of a melodious unity of sounds rising like vapor from a small mining town
that lay at my feet, in a fold of the valley.
One could make out the geometry of the streets between blocks of red and
gray roofs, and green puffs of trees, and a serpentine stream, and the rich,
ore-like glitter of the city dump, and beyond the town, roads crisscrossing the
crazy quilt of dark and pale fields, and behind it all, great timbered
mountains. But even brighter than those
quietly rejoicing colors—for there are colors and shades that seem to enjoy
themselves in good company—both brighter and dreamier to the ear than they were
to the eye, was that vapory vibration of accumulated sounds that never ceased
for a moment, as it rose to the lip of granite where I stood wiping my foul
mouth. And soon I realized that all
these sounds were of one nature, that no other sounds but these came from the
streets of the transparent town, with the women at home and the men away. Reader! What I heard was the melody of
children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this
vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank
and divinely enigmatic—one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost
articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a
toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any
movement in the lightly etched streets.
I stood listening to that musical vigration from my lofty slope, to
those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background,
and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence
from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord.

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