NABOKV-L post 0025991, Wed, 4 Feb 2015 13:09:15 -0200

Gesticulating Trees
The 2012 review
/MAY-EXEMPLARS-for-publishers-1.pdf of Selected Poems (subtitled "A New
Selection"), edited by Thomas Karshan, " includes many of the pieces in
Nabokov's 1970 collection Poems and Problems. The first section of 30 poems
is edited by his son, Dmitri Nabokov- we've seen some of these circulated in
literary journals since his father's death. The entirety is an interesting
compilation-not chronological-but sectioned by those poems translated from
Russian and those written in English."

A particular poem was selected ("Rain")together with the praise to its
translator: "In the canon of Russian/English literature in translation,
this book ranks high because we want to know more about its beguiling author
and what memory has softened. The translator and editor have given us

I once mentioned this poem at the VN-L in connection to "Signs and Symbols",
without pointing out the words it shared with one of S&S sentences, namely,
the "gesticulating trees" which were brought up in another post after a
ten-year lapse of time. *

The repetition of these references (mainly connected to Baudelaire's poem
"Correspondences") may be useful, though. They are an indication of VN's
fascination with that particular image (it also reappears, but tenuously, in
Pale Fire with its tin-toys, Erlkonig's horses, the past, Shade's shivering
shutters and Kinbote's madness).

Here they are:

1. Rain by Vladimir Nabokov

How mobile is the bed on these
nights of gesticulating trees
when the rain clatters fast,
the tin-toy rain with dapper hoof
trotting upon an endless roof,
traveling into the past.

Upon old roads the steeds of rain
Slip and slow down and speed again
through many a tangled year;
but they can never reach the last
dip at the bottom of the past
because the sun is there.

See also: and, if the link
works, Nabokov reading it:

2. "Signs and Symbols" by V. Nabokov: "... Clouds in the staring sky
transmit to one another, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed
information regarding him. His inmost thoughts are discussed at nightfall,
in manual alphabet, by darkly gesticulating trees."


*VN-L archives: Mon, 20 Dec 2004; Thursday 13 March 2014.

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