Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Vlad the almost unbelievable

Sonnet – Forked tongue
The mirrored Vlad said this: My thoughts proclaim
My genius, I write at least with “talent”,
(Ironic quotes to mark a word so tame)
But childish chat is my profound lament.

No media man, he asked inquisitors
To write their questions on prosaic cards
Then, face to face, the hopeful auditors
Endured a long exchange for dull rewards.
The eccentricity was rightly earned:
While Luzhin and The Gift were Russian born,
Lolita’s acid laughs, so deftly turned,
Blow like a zestful Yankee auto horn.*
Oddness explains a dearth of oral skill;
Two voices make speech harder to distil.

NOTE I have Plutarch’s authority for using a rhyming dictionary. Rhyming, he says, is an artificial constraint and therefore this is not cheating. One of the several online dictionaries I use threw up the bizarre final three words of the asterisked line. It seemed ungracious to reject this Autolycan gift.


Plutarch said...

Since you kind enough to quote something I said about rhyme, may I add that very often having to search for a rhyme leads the poet to images and even thoughts that might not have occurred to him if he was using, more freely, just the words that come into his head. If the search for rhyme produced " a zestful Yankee auto horn", my goodness it did its job.

The Crow said...

Nabokov's Lolita was a disturbing read when I was 14 and already a survivor of inappropriate attentions from a neighbor. When I read it again at 19, my distance from the assaults and relative maturity allowed me to appreciate Nabokov's art. The premise was still disturbing, but I had begun to appreciate good writing by then, and saw beyond the plot line to the craft beneath.

Forked Tongue is a good title, as he wrote and spoke at least two languages, and I loved "The mirrored Vlad..." allusion to his first and second given names. Does the suffix "ovitch" mean "son of"?

Another good one, BB. I look forward, with much anticipation, to the next.


Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: In fact mind and eye bounce off the dictionary words, responding to sounds rather than meanings; it is rare that anything drops directly into your lap. Other than that it is a wandering mental process like all the others associated with poetry and my arch-naive question about cheating was of course a nonsense. It just so happened that the phrase you cite arrived when I'd nearly finished the first draft; if it had arrived earlier I might wandered off somewhere else. Good title.

The Crow: I was lucky enough to read Lolita at an age when I was able to recognise it as a dark comedy. And when the film appeared it increased my great admiration for James Mason that he was able to recognise Humbert Humbert as a great role after others, more conscious of their images, turned away from it. My gender and, as I say, my age meant that it was never going to be as disturbing as it must have been for you. For me the happy ending is that you read it a second time and no doubt recognised it for what it is, a small masterpiece. Comparing it with Pnin, it's nip and tuck.

The Crow said...

I think Humbert might have been Mason's best role, though I haven't seen all his films. And talk about a girlhood crush on a movie star! Only Sean Connery has held my 'affections' longer than James Mason has.