Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024651, Wed, 2 Oct 2013 12:12:09 +0000

Re: quote query
Hi Brian, The phrase, "only birds are able to throw off their shadows," seems to be from a lyric by Rod McKuen, although there are several websites that link the phrase to Nabokov without - frustratingly - actually indicating where or when it was written. It certainly does not appear in Selected Poems (2012). Interestingly a French version of the final two lines - "Notre imagination vole. / Nous sommes son ombre sur la terre" - appears on several sites with Nabokov's name attached to it, but with the exception of "Mademoiselle O" and his 1937 Pouchkine ou le vrai et le vraisemblable I am largely unfamiliar with Nabokov's works in French. That might be a potential avenue of inquiry though. It is certainly frustrating that quotations posted online rarely if ever indicate the place of origin; however, I'm sure VN (and Vivian Darkbloom) would be amused.Best,

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 20:18:55 +0000
From: b.boyd@AUCKLAND.AC.NZ
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] quote query

An artist working on a commission in NYC would like to use what she thinks a complete Nabokov poem if she can find out its published source. I'm sceptical this pallid shadow of the opening of "Pale Fire" is VN, even from his Russian poetry, but does anyone
recognise it?

“Only birds are able to throw off their shadows
The shadow always stays behind on earth.
Our imagination flies.
We are its shadow on the earth.”

Brian Boyd

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