Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023624, Sun, 3 Feb 2013 03:11:09 +0300

Lord Byron's Hock
'Ah!' said Demon, tasting Lord Byron's Hock. 'This redeems Our Lady's Tears.' (Ada, 1.38)

Hock is mentioned in Byron's The Waltz (1813):

Imperial Waltz! Imported from the Rhine
(Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine),
Long be thine import from all duty free,
And hock itself be less esteem’d than thee;
In some few qualities alike—for hock
Improves our cellar—thou our living stock.
The head to hock belongs—thy subtler art
Intoxicates alone the heedless heart:
Through the full veins thy gentler poison swims,
And wakes to wantonness the willing limbs.

In vain I hoped that VN's play The Waltz Invention had something to do with Byron's poem.* But his hock redeemed my disappointment.

*According to some commentators, "Calembourg" mentioned in VN's play by Waltz is London. Yet, the poet Turvalski (whose poem is recited by one of the generals) seems to be in no way related to the Countess of Waltzaway (a distant relation of Horace Hornem's spouse). Horace Hornem, the fictitious author of The Waltz, was invented by Byron.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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