Carolyn Kunin: What you are thinking of is the purple martin, which is a large swallow. .. Jansy Mello:   Actually the word “Martin” ramifies differently in the English and the French (romance language) worlds. In French you’ll find it being attributed to four different birds: “martinet, martin, martin-pêcheur and martin-chasseur”.[…] The fascinating thing for me… is the association between the family of kingfishers (“martin-pêcheur” and “martin-chasseur”, from the Alcedinidae, order Coraciiformes) and another mytological set of Greek deities who lay eggs during their “halcyon days”: it is the legend of Alcyone and Ceyx. These, in turn, are related to the ALKONOST, a bird with the face of a woman that is sometimes presented together with the SIRIN.  


Jansy Mello: I wonder what can be read in VN’s favorite Webster under “halcyon days” (or under “martins” and “martinets”).  I found its employ in Ada, or Ardor once:  “Van’s maternal grandmother Daria (‘Dolly’) Durmanov was the daughter of Prince Peter Zemski [   ] General Ivan Durmanov, Commander of Yukon Fortress and peaceful country gentleman, with lands in the Severn Tories (Severnïya Territorii), that tesselated protectorate still lovingly called ‘Russian’ Estoty, which commingles, granoblastically and organically, with ‘Russian’ Canady, otherwise ‘French’ Estoty, where not only French, but Macedonian and Bavarian settlers enjoy a halcyon climate under our Stars and Stripes.”

ADA I, ch.1


Checking into Ada Online’s Brian Boyd’s annotations, I see that the word “halcyon” was considered in connection to the American hymns and to nice weather. VN very probably used “halcyon climate” without considering the original sense of a glorious interval in between storms nor its relation to the Alkonost. There is a reference to the Alkonost in VN’s letter to his wife dated August 24,1924 (Letters to Véra, Penguin UK, 2014) with an explanatory note at the end of the collection.
I don’t know why the Alkonost and
the Sirin are not considered as another sort of strangely mismatched pninian “tvin” birds.  


3.21a halcyon climate under our Stars and Stripes: Combines l. 33, “O beautiful for halcyon skies,” of “America the Beautiful,” the unofficial second national anthem of the USA (alluded to in detail at 21.12-18: see 21.12-18n.) and the description of the US flag as the “stars and stripes,” as in line 3, “Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,” of the official US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” words by Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), in his poem “The Defense of Fort M’Henry” (1813). “Halcyon climate” contrasts with Estotiland's reputation for extreme cold (cf. Milton at 3.18n.) “The Stars and Stripes” is the popular name for the flag of the United States of America, adopted in its first form in 1777 (Act of June 14, 1777), with the stars in a circle within the blue corner rectangle, and in its modern form, with the stars for each current state in a rectangular grid, in 1818 (Act of April 4, 1818).



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