NABOKV-L post 0011291, Thu, 31 Mar 2005 20:13:42 -0800

Fw: Nabokov as Maze Maker/ Worlds in Regression
Dear Jansy,
As far as I can remember I don't think I knew about Byron's "ELM" when I wrote the piece perhaps 25 years ago. Thank you for callin git to my attention (as well as Schubert's Lied but I do not see how they fit in with VN's sibling incest theme in ADA. I imagine Byron musings under the elm at Harrow long predate his interest in his Ada, No?

Best, Don
----- Original Message -----
From: Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello
To: don barton johnson
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 5:59 PM
Subject: Nabokov as Maze Maker/ Worlds in Regression

Dear Don,

While I was reading my copy of your book I found your sentence: "Chateaubriand´s tale of incest was, he said, conceived under the very elm in Middlesex, England, where Byron s´abandonnait aux caprices de son âge.
The reference ( number 5) at the end of the chapter doesn´t mention Byron´s poem "Lines written Beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow", nor do you refer to it among Byron´s other works ( nor to his "Don Juan" in connection with ADA´s don juanesque themes ).

I got what I´m copying below by googling and adding it to my notes. If you haven´t yet read this Under the Elm poem please check if it was indeed Byron´s ( I could have made a mistake during the copying/pasting process ).
What called my attention at the time was its similarity with a very famous Lied by Schubert. Anyone who has lived in Germany would know this song ( i.e, VN could have heard it at least once ) but the tree is not an elm but a lime-tree ( "Lindenbaum").
Its title is " Am Brunen vor dem Tore" ( I´m also uncertain about this spelling...)

Lines Written Beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow

Spot of my youth! whose hoary branches sigh,
Swept by the breeze that fans thy cloudless sky;
Where now alone I muse, who oft have trod,
With those I loved, thy soft and verdant sod;
With those who, scattered far, perchance deplore,
Like me, the happy scenes they knew before:
Oh! as I trace again thy winding hill,
Mine eyes admire, my heart adores thee still,
Thou drooping Elm! beneath whose boughs I lay,
And frequent mused the twilight hours away;
Where, as they once were wont, my limbs recline,
But ah! without the thoughts which then were mine.
How do thy branches, moaning to the blast,
Invite the bosom to recall the past,
And seem to whisper, as the gently swell,
"Take, while thou canst, a lingering, last farewell!"

When fate shall chill, at length, this fevered breast,
And calm its cares and passions into rest,
Oft have I thought, 'twould soothe my dying hour, -
If aught may soothe when life resigns her power, -
To know some humbler grave, some narrow cell,
Would hide my bosom where it loved to dwell.
With this fond dream, methinks, 'twere sweet to die -
And here it lingered, here my heart might lie;
Here might I sleep, where all my hopes arose,
Scene of my youth, and couch of my repose;
For ever stretched beneath this mantling shade,
Pressed by the turf where once my childhood played;
Wrapped by the soil that veils the spot I loved,
Mixed with the earth o'er which my footsteps moved;
Blest by the tongues that charmed my youthful ear,
Mourned by the few my soul acknowledged here;
Deplored by those in early days allied,
And unremembered by the world beside.