Apr. 18th, 2012

armistice_day: (the fire that consumes all before it)
Before and beyond any character, what brought me to Nabokov (or was it Nabokov to me) were his images.

Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Hair: brown. Lips: scarlet.
Age: five thousand three hundred days.
Profession: none, or "starlet"

Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?
Why are you hiding, darling?
(I Talk in a daze, I walk in a maze
I cannot get out, said the starling).

Where are you riding, Dolores Haze?
What make is the magic carpet?
Is a Cream Cougar the present craze?
And where are you parked, my car pet?

Who is your hero, Dolores Haze?
Still one of those blue-capped star-men?
Oh the balmy days and the palmy bays,
And the cars, and the bars, my Carmen!

Oh Dolores, that juke-box hurts!
Are you still dancin', darlin'?
(Both in worn levis, both in torn T-shirts,
And I, in my corner, snarlin').

Happy, happy is gnarled McFate
Touring the States with a child wife,
Plowing his Molly in every State
Among the protected wild life.

My Dolly, my folly! Her eyes were vair,
And never closed when I kissed her.
Know an old perfume called Soliel Vert?
Are you from Paris, mister?

L'autre soir un air froid d'opera m'alita;
Son fele -- bien fol est qui s'y fie!
Il neige, le decor s'ecroule, Lolita!
Lolita, qu'ai-je fait de ta vie?

Dying, dying, Lolita Haze,
Of hate and remorse, I'm dying.
And again my hairy fist I raise,
And again I hear you crying.

Officer, officer, there they go--
In the rain, where that lighted store is!
And her socks are white, and I love her so,
And her name is Haze, Dolores.

Officer, officer, there they are--
Dolores Haze and her lover!
Whip out your gun and follow that car.
Now tumble out and take cover.

Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Her dream-gray gaze never flinches.
Ninety pounds is all she weighs
With a height of sixty inches.

My car is limping, Dolores Haze,
And the last long lap is the hardest,
And I shall be dumped where the weed decays,
And the rest is rust and stardust.

--Lolita, chapter 25, Nabokov
armistice_day: (winter's tale . it is a gallant child)
I spent a lot of time alone as a child. Most of that time, when I wasn't riding my bike, I was reading. Or performing interpretive dance to ABBA records, but I won't be covering those flights of fancy in this post.

I read a lot. An awful lot. The Great American Novels of the time, courtesy of the Book Club return cards my mother never returned in time, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Fantasy and Science Fiction received as gifts from Uncles and Aunts, my mother's mysteries, historical fiction and classics, and my own slowly growing collection of odds and ends. One feature of which were my books of poetry. Anthologies, collections, and the like. Big, thick books, crammed with poems. Some of the poems were sad, some were strange, some were boring, some were sappy, some were dirty, and some were beautiful. These are still my main categories for sorting poems, and I find they work quite well. Though I am much easier on the sappy poems now than I was then.

I had a lot of odd hobbies. Lots of only children do. We're inventive about finding ways to use time. One of my hobbies consisted in banging out the poems I really loved on my mother's old portable typewriter. Once typed, I kept them in a folder in my Trapper-Keeper, for easy access. Who could say when I might like to read that poem again? It could happen at any time.

Once, I left a poem, only partly typed, in the typewriter. The paper was onionskin. The verse was one from a poem called "The World" by Henry Vaughn, the very first verse. I didn't much care for the other verses. Though full of incredible images, they were of a moralizing tone that I disliked. But the first-- I didn't have to type it out, I already knew it by heart, I just wanted to. I wanted to not only see the words, say the words, but feel them, too.

When my mother came to collect the typewriter from my room (she typed my father's seminary papers on the same machine), she found the poem and showed it to my father. I hated to disappoint them, but when they asked me if I had written it, I had to say I hadn't. I also probably went on enthusiastically about the verse itself for a bit.

For a long time, I wanted to be a poet. Sometimes I am one, in the usual way. But more usually I am one in my own way. The images I read and the images I see are one and the same in my mind. They become each other forever, a great loop. A great ring.

When I look up to the tangible stars or when I feel the intangible rush and roar of time, I hear Vaughn's words. They are always with me, an image in my mind. Slanted sunlight on translucent paper, the book open at my elbow, the heavy clack of the keys, itchy carpet under my belly, a waving curtain, the sound of a train in the distance.


I saw Eternity the other night,
like a great ring of pure and endless light,
all calm, as it was bright;
and round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years
driven by the spheres
like a vast shadow moved; in which the World
and all her train were hurled.

--The World, Henry Vaughn


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