It seems to me that to be completed Shade’s unfinished poem needs not only Line 1000 (identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain”), but also Line 1001 (“By its own double in the windowpane”), the poem’s coda. A coda (It., “tail”) can be longer than one line and comprise several lines or even stanzas. In the Foreword to his Geständnisse (“Confessions,” 1854) Heinrich Heine (the author of a poem about the Doppelgänger) complains about the pirate editions of his works, mentions Leporello (Don Juan’s valet in Byron’s poem and in Pushkin’s little tragedy) and says that he could have sung a song about his dishonest compatriots with the refrain Aber in Deutschland tausend und drei! (“But in Germany one thousand and three!”):


Sollte ich, in der ethnographischen Weise des Leporello, eine illustrierte Liste von den respektiven Spitzbuben anfertigen, die mir die Tasche geleert, so würden freilich alle zivilisierten Länder darin zahlreich genug repräsentiert werden, aber die Palme bliebe doch dem Vaterlande, welches das Unglaublichste geleistet, und ich könnte davon ein Lied singen mit dem Refrain:


Aber in Deutschland tausend und drei!


This seems to suggest that the German version of Shade’s poem should be at least two lines longer than the original! A joke, of course, but it confirms indirectly my theory that, in its finished form, Shade’s poem has more than 1000 lines.


In his Memorien (published posthumously in 1884) Heine says that some of his French friends called him, mispronouncing his name, Mr. Un rien (“Mr. Nothing”):


Hier in Frankreich ist mir gleich nach meiner Ankunft in Paris mein Deutscher Name "Heinrich" in "Henry" übersetzt worden, und ich musste mich darin schicken und auch endlich hierzulande selbst so zu nennen, da das Wort Heinrich dem französischen Ohr nicht zusagte und überhaupt die Franzosen sich alle Dinge in der Welt recht bequem machen. Auch den Namen "Henri Heine" haben sie nie recht aussprechen können, und bei den meisten heiβe ich Mr. Enri Enn; von vielen wird dieses in Enrienne zusammengezogen, und einige nannten mich Mr. Un rien.


The last eight years of his life Heine (1797-1856) was bedridden. Geyne prikovannyi* (“Heine Bedridden”) is an essay by I. Annenski included in Vtoraya kniga otrazheniy (“The Second Book of Reflections,” 1909). Annenski published his “First Book of Reflections” (1906) under the penname Nik. T-o (“Mr. Nobody”). In Pushkin’s little tragedy Mozart and Salieri (1830) Mozart uses the phrase nikto b (“none would”). Nikto b is Botkin backwards. Shade’s, Kinbote’s and Gradus’ “real” name seems to be Botkin.


In his Memorien Heine speaks of his childhood years in Düsseldorf and Hamburg and mentions Napoleon. In Eugene Onegin (Two: XIV: 5-7) Pushkin says that “we all expect to be Napoleons; the millions of two-legged creatures for us are only tools.” In the preceding lines (XIV: 3-4) Pushkin writes:


Мы почитаем всех нулями,
А единицами – себя.


We deem all people naughts

And ourselves units.


Nul’ (naught) means “zero; 0” and edinitsa (unit) means “one; 1.” In 1001 (the conjectural total number of lines in Shade’s poem) dva nulya (two naughts) are flanked by dve edinitsy (two units). Dva stikha (two lines) should be added to Shade’s unfinished poem. Its German version can have two additional lines (“and in Germany 1003”). In Pushkin’s EO Lenski studied in Germany. According to Pushkin, Onegin pomnil, khot’ ne bez grekha, iz “Eneidy” dva stikha (remembered, though not without fault, two lines from the Aeneid; One: VI: 7-8). Grekh (sin; fault) rhymes with smekh (laughter), but also with orekh (nut). In his poem Podrazhanie arabskomu (“Imitation of the Arabic,” 1835) Pushkin in a homoerotic context mentions dvoynoy oreshek pod edinoy skorlupoy (a twin kernel under one shell). On the other hand, orekh brings to mind Shade’s daughter Hazel. There is a hazel-brush in Aschenputtel (Brothers Grimm’s German version of the fairy tale about Cinderella). In his Commentary Kinbote speaks of suicide and mentions “the terrible sin [in Russian, grekh] implicit in self-destruction” and “Grimm, the old groom:”


Line 493: She [Hazel] took her poor young life

The following note is not an apology of suicide—it is the simple and sober description of a spiritual situation.
The more lucid and overwhelming one’s belief in Providence, the greater the temptation to get it over with, this business of life, but the greater too one’s fear of the terrible sin implicit in self-destruction. Let us first consider the temptation. As more thoroughly discussed elsewhere in this commentary (see note to line 550), a serious conception of any form of afterlife inevitably and necessarily presupposes some degree of belief in Providence; and, conversely, deep Christian faith presupposes some belief in some sort of spiritual survival. The vision of that survival need not be a rational one, i.e., need not present the precise features of personal fancies or the general atmosphere of a subtropical Oriental park. In fact, a good Zemblan Christian is taught that true faith is not there to supply pictures or maps, but that it should quietly content itself with a warm haze of pleasurable anticipation. To take a homely example: little Christopher’s family is about to migrate to a distant colony where his father has been assigned to a lifetime post. Little Christopher, a frail lad of nine or ten, relies completely (so completely, in fact, as to blot out the very awareness of this reliance) on his elders’ arranging all the details of departure, passage and arrival. He cannot imagine, nor does he try to imagine, the particular aspects of the new place awaiting him but he is dimly and comfortably convinced that it will be even better than his homestead, with the big oak, and the mountain, and his pony, and the park, and the stable, and Grimm, the old groom, who has a way of fondling him whenever nobody is around.


I bessmyslitsa i grekh (“both nonsense and sin”) is the closing line of G. Ivanov’s poem Ya khotel by ulybnut’sya… (“I would like to smile…” 1948):


Я хотел бы улыбнуться,

Отдохнуть, домой вернуться...

Я хотел бы так немного,

То, что есть почти у всех,

Но что мне просить у Бога -

И бессмыслица и грех.


I would like to smile,

To take a rest, to return home…

I want so few things

That amount to what almost all have,

But what in my case to ask God would be

Both nonsense and sin.


In his review of Sirin’s novels and stories G. Ivanov allowed himself several rude personal remarks. In his epigram on Kachenovski, Zhurnalami obizhennyi zhestoko… (“Insulted deeply by magazines…” 1829), Pushkin says that certain personal abuse in literary reviews is indecent and mentions smekh (laughter), parnasskiy starover (the Parnassian Old Believer) and bessmyslitsy orator (the orator of nonsense):


Журналами обиженный жестоко,
Зоил Пахом печалился глубоко;
На цензора вот подал он донос;
Но цензор прав, нам смех, зоилу нос.
Иная брань, конечно, неприличность,
Нельзя писать: Такой-то де старик,
Козёл в очках, плюгавый клеветник,
И зол и подл: все это будет личность.
Но можете печатать, например,
Что господин парнасский старовер
(В своих статьях) бессмыслицы оратор,
Отменно вял, отменно скучноват,
Тяжеловат и даже глуповат;
Тут не лицо, а только литератор.


Insulted deeply by some journalists 

Zilos Pakhom files charges, where he lists

Claims and complains. The teasers, yet,

For sure will be found not guilty, one can bet.

Some invective, of course, aren't recommended.      

One cannot write that Mister Such-and-Such,

Bespectacled goat... - this is a bit too much,

A shabby libeler... - should also be amended.

However, one can say politely that

Mr. Parnassian Old Believer is just sad

And slightly ponderous, and in the latest journal

His article is sort of daft and dull,  

A bit annoying, honestly, 'tis fool.

Here is the literateur and nothing personal.

(transl. by V. Gurvich)


In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions “the great Starover Blue.” According to Kinbote, Starover Blue is the real name of a Professor at New Wye. In his Commentary Kinbote wonders if Shade received Professor Blue’s permission to mention him in a fictional context:


Presumably, permission from Prof. Blue was obtained but even so the plunging of a real person, no matter how sportive and willing, into an invented milieu where he is made to perform in accordance with the invention, strikes one as a singularly tasteless device, especially since other real-life characters, except members of the family, of course, are pseudonymized in the poem. (note to Line 627)


In Pushkin’s epigram donos (denunciation) rhymes with nos (nose): nam smekh, zoilu nos (we laugh, our critic is duped). In Pale Fire VN pokazal nos (makes a fool of) his former zoil (after Zoilus, the critic who lashed Homer) G. Ivanov, the poet who rhymed once nos with ponos (diarrhea). Ivanov’s poem in which nos rhymes with ponos has an anti-Semitic note. According to Kinbote, Proffessor Blue’s mother was an Americanized Kashube:


This name, no doubt, is most tempting. The star over the blue eminently suits an astronomer though actually neither his first nor second name bears any relation to the celestial vault: the first was given him in memory of his grandfather, a Russian starover (accented, incidentally, on the ultima), that is, Old Believer (member of a schismatic sect), named Sinyavin, from siniy, Russ. "blue." This Sinyavin migrated from Saratov to Seattle and begot a son who eventually changed his name to Blue and married Stella Lazurchik, an Americanized Kashube. (ibid.)


The Kashubes live in northern Poland near the mouth of the Vistula. In his poem Ya rodilsya v Moskve (“I was born in Moscow…” 1917) Khodasevich quotes his mother’s words who said that the bluest of all the rivers was the Vistula (vsekh rek sinee – Visla):


Я родился в Москве. Я дыма
Над польской кровлей не видал,
И ладанки с землёй родимой
Мне мой отец не завещал.


Но памятны мне утра в детстве,
Когда меня учила мать
Про дальний край скорбей и бедствий
Мечтать, молиться и молчать.


Не зная тайного их смысла,
Я слепо веровал в слова:
"Дитя! Всех рек сильнее – Висла,
Всех стран прекраснее – Литва".


In the last stanza of another, even more perfect, version (1923) of this poem Khodasevich says that the Moorish saintly lips [of Pushkin] whisper to him o nebyvaloy storone (about a fabulous land):


Я родился в Москве. Я дыма
Над польской кровлей не видал,
И ладанки с землёй родимой
Мне мой отец не завещал.


России – пасынок, а Польше –
Не знаю сам, кто Польше я.
Но: восемь томиков, не больше, –
И в них вся родина моя.


Вам – под ярмо ль подставить выю
Иль жить в изгнании, в тоске.
А я с собой свою Россию
В дорожном уношу мешке.


Вам нужен прах отчизны грубый,
А я где б ни был – шепчут мне
Арапские святые губы
О небывалой стороне.


You need the fatherland’s rough dust,

And as to me, wherever I am,

The Moorish saintly lips

Whisper to me about a fabulous land.


In Pale Fire this fabulous land is Kinbote’s Zembla. In both versions of his poem “I was born in Moscow” Khodasevich mentions ladanka s zemlyoy rodimoy (an amulet containing a bit of earth from the place where one was born).


*a play on Prometey prikovannyi (“Prometheus Bound”), a tragedy by Aeschylus; a translator of Euripides, Annenski was a classical scholar and borrowed his penname Nik. T-o from Odysseus who in Homer’s poem calls himself Outis (“Nobody”) in order  to deceive Polyphemus (the Cyclops)


Alexey Sklyarenko

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