'I'm a good, good girl. Here are her special pencils. It was very considerate and altogether charming of you to invite her next weekend. I think she's even more madly in love with you than with me, the poor pet. Demon got them in Strassburg. After all she's a demi-vierge now' ('I hear you and Dad -' began Van, but the introduction of a new subject was swamped) 'and we shan't be afraid of her witnessing our bats' (pronouncing on purpose, with triumphant hooliganism, for which my prose, too, is praised, the first vowel la Russe). (2.6)


The French word bats (frolics) in Adas pronunciation sounds like the vulgar Russian word for to fuck. In his poem Mmoire (1872-73) Rimbaud mentions lbat des anges (the play of angels):


Leau claire; comme le sel des larmes denfance,
lassaut au soleil des blancheurs des corps de femmes;
la soie, en foule et de lys pur, des oriflammes
sous les murs dont quelque pucelle eut la dfense;


lbat des anges;nonle courant dor en marche,
meut ses bras, noirs, et lourds, et frais surtout, dherbe. Elle
sombre, avant le Ciel bleu pour ciel-de-lit, appelle
pour rideaux lombre de la colline et de larche.


When Ada discusses the blunders in Fowlies version of Rimbauds Mmoire, Marina calls her daughter angel moy (my angel):


'By chance, this very morning,' said Ada, not deigning to enlighten her mother, 'our learned governess, who was also yours, Van, and who -'

(First time she pronounced it - at that botanical lesson!)

'- is pretty hard on English-speaking transmongrelizers - monkeys called "ursine howlers" - though I suspect her reasons are more chauvinistic than artistic and moral - drew my attention - my wavering attention - to some really gorgeous bloomers, as you call them, Van, in a Mr Fowlie's soi-disant literal version - called "sensitive" in a recent Elsian rave - sensitive! - of Mmoire, a poem by Rimbaud (which she fortunately - and farsightedly - made me learn by heart, though I suspect she prefers Musset and Coppe)' -

'...les robes vertes et dteintes des fillettes...' quoted Van triumphantly.

'Egg-zactly' (mimicking Dan). 'Well, Larivire allows me to read him only in the Feuilletin anthology, the same you have apparently, but I shall obtain his oeuvres compltes very soon, oh very soon, much sooner than anybody thinks. Incidentally, she will come down after tucking in Lucette, our darling copperhead who by now should be in her green nightgown -'

'Angel moy,' pleaded Marina, 'I'm sure Van cannot be interested in Lucette's nightdress!'

'- the nuance of willows, and counting the little sheep on her ciel de lit which Fowlie turns into "the sky's bed" instead of "bed ceiler." But, to go back to our poor flower. The forged louis d'or in that collection of fouled French is the transformation of souci d'eau (our marsh marigold) into the asinine "care of the water" - although he had at his disposal dozens of synonyms, such as mollyblob, marybud, maybubble, and many other nick-names associated with fertility feasts, whatever those are.'

'On the other hand,' said Van, 'one can well imagine a similarly bilingual Miss Rivers checking a French version of, say, Marvell's Garden -'

'Oh,' cried Ada, 'I can recite "Le jardin" in my own transversion - let me see -


En vain on s'amuse gagner

L'Oka, la Baie du Palmier...'


'...to win the Palm, the Oke, or Bayes!' shouted Van. (1.10)


When Ada saw him for the first time, Van looked like un rgulier angelochek (little angel):


Before his boarding-school days started, his father's pretty house, in Florentine style, between two vacant lots (5 Park Lane in Manhattan), had been Van's winter home (two giant guards were soon to rise on both sides of it, ready to frog-march it away), unless they journeyed abroad. Summers in Radugalet, the 'other Ardis,' were so much colder and duller than those here in this, Ada's, Ardis. Once he even spent both winter and summer there; it must have been in 1878.

Of course, of course, because that was the first time, Ada recalled, she had glimpsed him. In his little white sailor suit and blue sailor cap. (Un rgulier angelochek, commented Van in the Raduga jargon.) (1.24)


Raduga being Russian for rainbow, Radugalet seems to mean little rainbow. On the other hand, it can be read as raduga let (a rainbow of years). Raduga (1865) is a poem by Tyutchev. In his heart-rending poem Nakanune godovshchiny 4 avgusta 1864 goda (On the Eve of the Anniversary of August 4th., 1864, 1865) Tyutchev addresses his dead mistress and three times repeats the phrase angel moy:


ҧ֧է ӧէݧ ҧݧ էԧ
ڧ ӧ֧ ԧѧߧ֧ԧ էߧ...
ا֧ݧ ާߧ, ٧ѧާڧѧ ߧԧ...
ާ ާڧݧ, ӧڧէڧ ݧ ާ֧ߧ?


֧ާߧ֧, ֧ާߧ֧ ߧѧ ٧֧ާݧ֧ C
ݧ֧֧ ݧ֧էߧڧ ҧݧ֧ էߧ...
ާڧ, ԧէ اڧݧ ާ ҧ,
ߧԧ֧ ާ, ӧڧէڧ ݧ ާ֧ߧ?


ѧӧ է֧ߧ ާݧڧӧ ֧ѧݧ,
ѧӧ ѧާ ܧӧԧ էߧ...
ߧԧ֧ ާ, ԧէ է ߧ ӧڧѧݧ,
ߧԧ֧ ާ, ӧڧէڧ ݧ ާ֧ߧ?


Wandering along the highway

as daylight quietly dies...

Depressed. My legs don't want to move.

My darling, can you see me?


It's getting darker, darker over all the earth.

Day's last glimmer flying off...

That's the world I shared with you.

My angel, can you see me?


Tomorrow we pray and grieve.

Tomorrow we recall that fateful day.

My angel, wherever souls go,

My angel, can you see me?

(transl. F. Jude)


The name of Tyutchevs mistress was Elena Denisiev. One of the leitmotivs of Ada is 'Oh! Qui me rendra mon Hlne. Et ma montagne et le grand chne (see Darkblooms Notes to Ada).


In his poem V neprinuzhdyonnosti tvoryashchego obmena (In the Ease of Creative Exchange 1908) Mandelshtam asks who could skillfully combine Tyutchevs severity with Verlaines childishness giving to the combination his own stamp:


ߧ֧ڧߧاէ֧ߧߧ ӧ֧ԧ ҧާ֧ߧ

ӧ ֧ӧ ֧ҧ֧ӧ ֧ݧߧ

ܧѧاڧ ܧ ҧ ާ ڧܧߧ ֧ѧ,

֧էڧߧ֧ߧڧ ڧէѧ ӧ ֧ѧ?

ܧާ ڧ ѧ ӧۧӧ֧ߧߧ ӧ֧ݧڧ,

է ӧ֧ߧڧ ֧ݧ ֧ҧ֧ѧߧ ڧ!


Verlaine was a close friend of Rimbaud. They also had they own bats. In Ada (1.2) there are also allusions to ludicrous blunders in Lowell's versions of Mandelshtam's poems (see Darkblooms Notes to Ada).


Ada termed the four-year-long period of her first separation with Van our black rainbow:


For their correspondence in the first period of separation, Van and Ada had invented a code which they kept perfecting during the next fifteen months after Van left Ardis. The entire period of that separation was to span almost four years ('our black rainbow,' Ada termed it), from September, 1884 to June, 1888, with two brief interludes of intolerable bliss (in August, 1885 and June, 1886) and a couple of chance meetings ('through a grille of rain'). Codes are a bore to describe; yet a few basic details must be, reluctantly, given. (1.26)


Van and Ada use Marvell's Garden and Rimbaud's Mmoire for their coded messages:


In the second period of separation, beginning in 1886, the code was radically altered. Both Van and Ada still knew by heart the seventy-two lines of Marvell's 'The Garden' and the forty lines of Rimbaud's 'Mmoire.' It was from those two texts that they chose the letters of the words they needed. (ibid.)


Alexey Sklyarenko

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