Friday, April 04, 2008

Poetry Friday: To Vladimir

If there's one writer I'd like to bring back and talk to for one hour, he would be Vladimir Nabokov. True, even if alive, Nabokov wouldn't allow this: I'd have to submit my questions on note cards and he'd send back heavily-edited ironic answers, but still...I'd just like to talk to the man who had such control over his novels and the pawns who read them.

Some readers say Nabokov had no heart, no morality. I'd argue that such devotion to novelistic structure is in itself a kind of morality. Especially when you think, as Nabokov did, that works of art should stand for themselves, in and of themselves.

In any case, a series of meetings this week had me thinking of the questions I'd ask the man if given the chance. The result of these rambling thoughts is a silly little ditty addressed to the great novelist. (Next week, I swear I'll spare you with a review of a children's poetry book.)

To Vladimir, Address Unknown

Tell me the truth, Volodya. Give it to me straight.
Did you think in pictures, in shades of blue and gray?
Did the sound of lilac trip the ridges of your mind?
Did you find the colors you had to leave behind?

You shared a pen with Hermann and Kinbote, Humbert
and Van. Did their lies and crazy scrivenings hurt
no one but themselves? Didn't their obsessions mark
stains of deep purple on the sinews of your heart?

There’s much I want to ask you, but you are not here.
You’d fight in any case the hostage of your ear.
Still, there’s one more question I'd like to ask, if I may,
You wrote of giant pencils, but sent poor Freud away?
If you'd like to hear Nabokov reading a poem aloud, follow this link. (RealPlayer only)
The wonderfully prolific Becky of Becky's Book Reviews in on the roundup. Head on over and leave your links!