Бледный огонь - читать онлайн книгу. Автор: Владимир Набоков cтр.№ 80

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Онлайн книга - Бледный огонь | Автор книги - Владимир Набоков

Cтраница 80
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Because a heckler pointed with his pipe,

But probably because the time was ripe

For just that bump and wobble on the part

Of a limp blimp, an old unstable heart.

My vision reeked with truth. It had the tone,

The quiddity and quaintness of its own

Reality. It was. As time went on.

[740] Its constant vertical in triumph shone.

Often when troubled by the outer glare

Of street and strife, inward I'd turn, and there,

There in the background of my soul it stood,

Old Faithful! And its presence always would

Console me wonderfully. Then, one day,

I came across what seemed a twin display.

It was a story in a magazine

About a Mrs. Z. whose heart had been

Rubbed back to life by a prompt surgeon's hand.

[750] She told her interviewer of «The Land

Beyond the Veil» and the account contained

A hint of angels, and a glint of stained

Windows, and some soft music, and a choice

Of hymnal items, and her mother's voice;

But at the end she mentioned a remote

Landscape, a hazy orchard — and I quote:

«Beyond that orchard through a kind of smoke

I glimpsed a tall white fountain — and awoke.»

If on some nameless island Captain Schmidt

[760] Sees a new animal and captures it,

And if, a little later, Captain Smith

Brings back a skin, that island is no myth.

Our fountain was a signpost and a mark

Objectively enduring in the dark,

Strong as a bone, substantial as tooth,

And almost vulgar in its robust truth!

The article was by Jim Coates. To Jim

Forthwith I wrote. Got her address from him.

Drove west three hundred miles to talk to her.

[770] Arrived. Was met by an impassioned purr.

Saw that blue hair, those freckled hands, that rapt

Orchideous air — and knew that I was trapped.

«Who'd miss an opportunity to meet

A poet so distinguished?» It was sweet

Of me to come! I desperately tried

To ask my questions. They were brushed aside:

«Perhaps some other time.» The journalist

Still had her scribblings. I should not insist.

She plied me with fruit cake, turning it all

[780] Into an idiotic social call.

«I can't believe,» she said, «that it is you!

I loved your poem in the Blue Review.

That one about Mon Blon. I have a niece

Who's climbed the Matterhorn. The other piece

I could not understand. I mean the sense.

Because, of course, the sound — But I'm so dense!»

She was. I might have persevered. I might

Have made her tell me more about the white

Fountain we both had seen «beyond the veil»

[790] But if (I thought) I mentioned that detail

She'd pounce upon it as upon a fond

Affinity, a sacramental bond,

Uniting mystically her and me,

And in a jiffy our two souls would be

Brother and sister trembling on the brink

Of tender incest. «Well,» I said, «I think

It's getting late…»

I also called on Coates.

He was afraid he had mislaid her notes.

He took his article from a steel file:

[800] «It's accurate. I have not changed her style.

There's one misprint — not that it matters much:

Mountain, not fountain. The majestic touch.»

Life Everlasting — based on a misprint!

I mused as I drove homeward: take the hint,

And stop investigating my abyss?

But all at once it dawned on me that this

Was the real point, the contrapuntal theme;

Just this: not text, but texture; not the dream

But a topsy-turvical coincidence,

[810] Not flimsy nonsense, but a web of sense.

Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find

Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind

Of correlated pattern in the game,

Plexed artistry, and something of the same

Pleasure in it as they who played it found.

It did not matter who they were. No sound,

No furtive light came from their involute

Abode, but there they were, aloof and mute,

Playing a game of worlds, promoting pawns

[820] To ivory unicorns and ebony fauns;

Kindling a long life here, extinguishing

A short one there; killing a Balkan king;

Causing a chunk of ice formed on a high-

Flying airplane to plummet from the sky

And strike a farmer dead; hiding my keys,

Glasses or pipe. Coordinating these

Events and objects with remote events

And vanished objects. Making ornaments

Of accidents and possibilities.

[830] Stormcoated, I strode in: Sybil, it is

My firm conviction — «Darling, shut the door.

Had a nice trip?» Splendid — but what is more

I have returned convinced that I can grope

My way to some — to some — «Yes, dear?» Faint hope.

Canto Four

Now I shall spy on beauty as none has

Spied on it yet. Now I shall cry out as

None has cried out. Now I shall try what none

Has tried. Now I shall do what none has done.

And speaking of this wonderful machine:

[840] I'm puzzled by the difference between

Two methods of composing: A, the kind

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