NABOKV-L post 0014123, Mon, 20 Nov 2006 09:52:32 -0800

FROM: Don Johnson

Jansy's comment on ill-understood reminded me that a few days ago I, albeit belatedly, got to wondering about that "sublimated grouse" in the lines below:

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.

"Torquated," I knew because the common English name for the pheasant is "ring-necked ---"torquated" meaning "collared." I was puzzled, however, by that "SUBLIMATED grouse." In my, Freud-saturated society, "sublimated" =repressed, pushed down into the subconscious". WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

"Sublimated" means "made 'sublime,'' i.e. the rather plain-looking grouse (almost certainly the "Ruffed grouse" --the usual grouse of Appalachia) is viewed here as a grouse made SUBLIME, i.e., the elegant, showy pheasant.

If one adopts Brian Boyd's theory of the mousey Hazel being postmortally transformed into a glamorous Wood duck (Aix sponsa-"a bride", perhaps the mousey grouse's transformation into a splendid pheasant is a foreshadowing thereof.

Search the archive:
Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies: