Бледный огонь - читать онлайн книгу. Автор: Владимир Набоков cтр.№ 79

читать книги онлайн бесплатно

Онлайн книга - Бледный огонь | Автор книги - Владимир Набоков

Cтраница 79
читать онлайн книги бесплатно

At Grabermann's denouncing the Retort

As detrimental to the birth of wraiths.

We all avoided criticizing faiths.

The great Starover Blue reviewed the role

Planets had played as landfalls of the soul.

The fate of beasts was pondered. A Chinese

[630] Discanted on the etiquette at teas

With ancestors, and how far up to go.

I tore apart the fantasies of Poe,

And dealt with childhood memories of strange

Nacreous gleams beyond the adults' range.

Among our auditors were a young priest

And an old Communist. Iph could at least

Compete with churches and the party line.

In later years it started to decline:

Buddhism took root. A medium smuggled in

[640] Pale jellies and a floating mandolin.

Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept

All is allowed, into some classes crept;

And to fulfill the fish wish of the womb,

A school of Freudians headed for the tomb.

That tasteless venture helped me in a way.

I learnt what to ignore in my survey

Of death's abyss. And when we lost our child

I knew there would be nothing: no self-styled

Spirit would touch a keyboard of dry wood

[650] To rap out her pet name; no phantom would

Rise gracefully to welcome you and me

In the dark garden, near the shagbark tree.

«What is that funny creaking — do you hear?»

«It is the shutter on the stairs, my dear.»

«If you're not sleeping, let's turn on the light.

I hate that wind! Let's play some chess.» «All right.»

«I'm sure it's not the shutter. There — again.»

«It is a tendril fingering the pane.»

«What glided down the roof and made that thud?»

[660] «It is old winter tumbling in the mud.»

«And now what shall I do? My knight is pinned.»

Who rides so late in the night and the wind?

It is the writer's grief. It is the wild

March wind. It is the father with his child.

Later came minutes, hours, whole days at last,

When she'd be absent from our thoughts, so fast

Did life, the woolly caterpillar run.

We went to Italy. Sprawled in the sun

On a white beach with other pink or brown

[670] Americans. Flew back to our small town.

Found that my bunch of essays The Untamed

Seahorse was «universally acclaimed»

(It sold three hundred copies in one year).

Again school started, and on hillsides, where

Wound distant roads, one saw the steady stream

Of carlights all returning to the dream

Of college education. You went on

Translating into French Marvell and Donne.

It was a year of Tempests: Hurricane

[680] Lolita swept from Florida to Maine.

Mars glowed. Shahs married. Gloomy Russians spied.

Lang made your portrait. And one night I died.

The Crashaw Club had paid me to discuss

Why Poetry Is Meaningful To Us.

I gave my sermon, a dull thing but short.

As I was leaving in some haste, to thwart

The so-called «question period» at the end,

One of those peevish people who attend

Such talks only to say they disagree

[690] Stood up and pointed his pipe at me.

And then it happened — the attack, the trance,

Or one of my old fits. There sat by chance

A doctor in the front row. At his feet

Patly I fell. My heart had stopped to beat,

It seems, and several moments passed before

It heaved and went on trudging to a more

Conclusive destination. Give me now

Your full attention.

I can't tell you how

I knew — but I did know that I had crossed

[700] The border. Everything I loved was lost

But no aorta could report regret.

A sun of rubber was convulsed and set;

And blood-black nothingness began to spin

A system of cells interlinked within

Cells interlinked within cells interlinked

Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct

Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

I realized, of course, that it was made

Not of our atoms; that the sense behind

[710] The scene was not our sense. In life, the mind

Of any man is quick to recognize

Natural shams, and then before his eyes

The reed becomes a bird, the knobby twig

An inchworm, and the cobra head, a big

Wickedly folded moth. But in the case

Of my white fountain what it did replace

Perceptually was something that, I felt,

Could be grasped only by whoever dwelt

In the strange world where I was a mere stray.

[720] And presently I saw it melt away:

Though still unconscious I was back on earth.

The tale I told provoked my doctor's mirth.

He doubted very much that in the state

He found me in «one could hallucinate

Or dream in any sense. Later, perhaps,

But not during the actual collapse.

No, Mr. Shade.»

But, Doctor, I was dead!

He smiled. «Not quite: just half a shade,» he said.

However, I demurred. In mind I kept

[730] Replaying the whole thing. Again I stepped

Down from the platform, and felt strange and hot,

And saw that chap stand up, and toppled, not

Вернуться к просмотру книги Перейти к Оглавлению Перейти к Примечанию