Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024508, Wed, 21 Aug 2013 21:11:13 +0300

wasted water in LATH
I cannot be sure it was not again my fellow traveler, the black-hatted man, whom I saw hurrying away as I parted with Dora and our National Poet, leaving the latter to worry forever about all that wasted water (compare the Tsarskoselski Statue of a rock-dwelling maiden who mourns her broken but still brimming jar in one of his own poems)... (5.3)

In his poem on human tears (1849) Tyutchev compares tears to endless streams of rain:

Слёзы людские, о слёзы людские,
Льётесь вы ранней и поздней порой...
Льётесь безвестные, льётесь незримые,
Неистощимые, неисчислимые, –
Льётесь, как льются струи дождевые
В осень глухую порою ночной.

Human tears. O the tears! you that flow
when life is begun - or half-gone,
tears unseen, tears unknown, you that none
can number or drain, you that run
like the streamlets of rain from the low
clowds of Autumn, long before dawn...

When Vadim meets Dora near the Pushkin monument ("erected by a committee of weathermen"), his eyes are full with tears:

I dissolved in tears at once (though I was farced with pills). Her gentle beautiful eyes were also wet. (5.2)

And so are his eyes after he parted - never to see her again - with his daughter Bel:

The aquamarine sky was now silent, darkish and empty, save for a star-shaped star about which I wrote a Russian elegy ages ago, in another world. (4.7)

According to Vadim, "heavenly stars are seen as stellate only through tears" (2.3):

I have never experienced the least urge to commit suicide, that silly waste of selfhood (a gem in any light). But I must admit that on that particular night on the fourth or
fifth or fiftieth anniversary of my darling's death, I must have looked pretty suspect, in my black suit and dramatic muffler, to an average policeman of the riparian department. And it is a particularly bad sign when a hatless person sobs as he walks, being moved not by lines he might have composed himself but by something he hideously mistakes for his own and presently flinches, yet is too much of a coward to make amends:

Zvezdoobraznost' nebesnyh zvyozd
Vidish' tol'ko skvoz' slyozy...
(Heavenly stars are seen as stellate
only through tears.)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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