Monday, 19 November 2012

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

Watercolour pencil on acid free paper

(Gardens in the UK are spotting record numbers of waxwings. They are immigrants from countries further north who'll spend the winter here feasting on the ripening berries. And like many people on reading this news the first lines that came to my head were– I was the shadow of the waxwing slain– from 'Pale Fire'.)

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!

First paragraph from 'Pale Fire' a poem of "heroic couplets, of nine hundred and ninety-nine lines divided into four cantos",  by Vladimir Nabokov. From his novel 'Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade', which is essentially a novel about a poem. All 999 lines can be found here.

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