“Pale Fire” – Vladimir Nabokov

Posted by: Cary Briel, Skaneateles Design

Vladimir NabokovAn excerpt from Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale fire. You will want to read the article on Wikipedia here for an overview of this book’s interesting, and unusual structure and plot.

CANTO ONE

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff–and I
Lived on flew on in the reflected sky.
And from the inside, too, I’d duplicate
Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
Uncurtaining the night, I’d let dark glass
Hang all the furniture above the grass,
And how delightful when a fall of snow
Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
As to make chair and bed exactly stand
Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!

Retake the falling snow: each drifting flake
Shapeless and slow, unsteady and opaque,
A dull dark white against the day’s pale white
And abstract larches in the neutral light.
And then the gradual and dark blue
As night unites the viewer and the view,
And in the morning diamonds of frost
Express amazement: Whose spurred feet have crossed
From left to right the blank page of the road?
Reading from left to right in winter’s code:
A dot, an arrow pointing back; repeat:
Dot, arrow pointing back . . . A pheasant’s feet!
Torquated beauty, sublimated grouse,
Finding your China right behind my house.
Was he in Sherlock Holmes, the fellow whose
Tracks pointed back when he reversed his shoes?

There is a longer excerpt here on Amazon.com. Amazon also sells the book, or check your local library!

Leave a Reply