Omega, Ozero, Zero & Caroline Lukin in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Thu, 09/27/2018 - 07:35

Odon/Nodo/odno + Omega = modo/mood/doom + Onega

Onega + zero = ozero + nega

 

In his Commentary to Shade’s poem Kinbote (who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions three conjoined lakes called Omega, Ozero, and Zero:

 

Higher up on the same wooded hill stood, and still stands I trust, Dr. Sutton’s old clapboard house and, at the very top, eternity shall not dislodge Professor C.’s ultramodern villa from whose terrace one can glimpse to the south the larger and sadder of the three conjoined lakes called Omega, Ozero, and Zero (Indian names garbled by early settlers in such a way as to accommodate specious derivations and commonplace allusions). (note to Lines 47-48)

 

The poet’s daughter, Hazel Shade drowned in Lake Omega. In his essay Pushkin (1896) Merezhkovski quotes Pushkin’s words (as quoted by Aleksandra Smirnov – or, more likely, by her daughter, the author of spurious Memoirs) about Goethe’s Faust. According to Smirnov, Pushkin compared Faust to Dante’s Divine Comedy and called it “the last word of German literature… alpha and omega of human thought from the times of Christianity:”

 

Вот как русский поэт понимает значение «Фауста»: «„Фауст“ стоит совсем особо. Это последнее слово немецкой литературы, это особый мир, как „Божественная Комедия“; это — в изящной форме альфа и омега человеческой мысли со времён христианства». (chapter IV)

 

The opening lines of Goethe’s Erlkönig (1782), “Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind? / Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind,” are a leitmotif in Shade’s poem. In the first line of his Sonet (“A Sonnet,” 1830) Pushkin mentions Dante and in the second line, Petrarch:

 

Scorn not the sonnet, critic.

Wordsworth

 

Суровый Дант не презирал сонета;
В нём жар любви Петрарка изливал;
Игру его любил творец Макбета;
Им скорбну мысль Камоэнс облекал.

И в наши дни пленяет он поэта:
Вордсворт его орудием избрал,
Когда вдали от суетного света
Природы он рисует идеал.

Под сенью гор Тавриды отдаленной
Певец Литвы в размер его стесненный
Свои мечты мгновенно заключал.

У нас ещё его не знали девы,
Как для него уж Дельвиг забывал
Гекзаметра священные напевы.

 

Scorn not the sonnet, critic.

Wordsworth

 

Stern Dante did not despise the sonnet;

Into it Petrarch poured out the ardor of love;

Its play the creator of Macbeth loved;

With it Camoes clothed his sorrowful thought.

 

Even in our days it captivates the poet:

Wordsworth chose it as an instrument,

When far from the vain world

He depicts nature's ideal.

 

Under the shadow of the mountains of distant Tavrida

The singer of Lithuania in its constrained measure

His dreams he in an instant enclosed.

 

Here the maidens did not yet know it,

When for it even Delvig forgot

The sacred melodies of the hexameter.

(tr. Ober)

 

In Chapter One (XLIX) of Eugene Onegin Pushkin mentions nega (the voluptuousness) and yazyk Petrarki i lyubvi (the tongue of Petrarch and of love):

 

Адриатические волны,
О Брента! нет, увижу вас
И, вдохновенья снова полный,
Услышу ваш волшебный глас!
Он свят для внуков Аполлона;
По гордой лире Альбиона

Он мне знаком, он мне родной.
Ночей Италии златой
Я негой наслажусь на воле,
С венецианкою младой,
То говорливой, то немой,
Плывя в таинственной гондоле;
С ней обретут уста мои
Язык Петрарки и любви.

 

Adrian waves,

O Brenta! Nay, I'll see you

and, filled anew with inspiration,

I'll hear your magic voice!

'Tis sacred to Apollo's nephews;

through the proud lyre of Albion

to me 'tis known, to me 'tis kindred.

In the voluptuousness of golden

Italy's nights at liberty I'll revel,

with a youthful Venetian,

now talkative, now mute,

swimming in a mysterious gondola;

with her my lips will find

the tongue of Petrarch and of love.


The name Onegin comes from Onega, a river and a lake in NW Russia. Ozero is Russian for “lake.” Zero (0) is a roulette number. In the night of Hazel Shade’s death her parents watched TV and Sybil Shade (the poet’s wife) played “network roulette:”

Eleven struck. You sighed. "Well, I'm afraid
There's nothing else of interest." You played
Network roulette: the dial turned and trk'ed.
Commercials were beheaded. Faces flicked.
An open mouth in midsong was struck out.
An imbecile with sideburns was about
To use his gun, but you were much too quick.
A jovial Negro raised his trumpet. Trk.
Your ruby ring made life and laid the law.
Oh, switch it off! And as life snapped we saw
A pinhead light dwindle and die in black
Infinity. (ll. 463-474)

 

The total number of letters in Omega, Ozero and Zero (5 + 5 + 4 = 14) is fourteen. In a classical sonnet there are fourteen lines. The Eugene Onegin stanza is “patterned on a sonnet.” In his poem S ozera veet prokhlada i nega… (“Coolness and softness waft up from the lake…”) Tyutchev mentions ozero and nega (softness):

 

                            Es lächelt der See...

 

С озера веет прохлада и нега, –
Отрок заснул, убаюкан у брега.
Блаженные звуки
Он слышит во сне;
То ангелов лики
Поют в вышине.

 

И вот он очнулся от райского сна, –
Его, обнимая, ласкает волна,
И слышит он голос,
Как ропот струи:
«Приди, мой красавец,
В объятья мои!»

 

Coolness and softness waft up from the lake.

The youth has dozed off, lulled on the shore.

Blissful sounds

he hears in his sleep;

the faces of angels

singing on high.

 

And now he's come out of his heavenly slumber,

embraced and caressed by the swell,

and he hears a voice,

like the thrumming of strings;

Come, handsome boy,

to my embrace!

(transl. F. Jude)

 

Tyutchev’s poem is a translation from Schiller’s drama Wilhelm Tell (1804). In VN’s novel Lolita (1955) Dolores Haze (Lolita’s full name) marries Richard F. Schiller. At the end of Lolita Humbert Humbert (the narrator and main character) mentions Dick (Lolita's husband) and prophetic sonnets:

 

Thus, neither of us is alive when the reader opens this book. But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. Be true to your Dick. Do not let other fellows touch you. Do not talk to strangers. I hope you will love your baby. I hope it will be a boy. That husband of yours, I hope, will always treat you well, because otherwise my specter shall come at him, like black smoke, like a demented giant, and pull him apart nerve by nerve. And do not pity C.Q. One had to choose between him and H.H., and one wanted H.H. to exist at least a couple of months longer, so as to have him make you live in the minds of later generations. I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita. (2.36)

 

It seems that Humbert Humbert has in mind Shakespeare's Sonnet 14:

 

Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;

Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find:

But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive
If from thy self to store thou wouldst convert:

Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

 

According to John Ray, Jr. (the author of the Foreword to Humbert Humbert's manuscript), Mrs. "Richard F. Schiller" died in childbed, giving birth to a stillborn girl, on Christmas Day 1952, in Gray Star, a settlement in the remotest Northwest. “One shade the more, one ray the less” is a line in Byron’s poem She Walks in Beauty (1813):

 

She walks in beauty, like the night 

Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 

And all that’s best of dark and bright 

Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 

Thus mellowed to that tender light 

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 

Had half impaired the nameless grace 

Which waves in every raven tress, 

Or softly lightens o’er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 

The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 

But tell of days in goodness spent, 

A mind at peace with all below, 

A heart whose love is innocent!

 

In The Enchanted Hunters (a hotel in Briceland where Humbert Humbert and Lolita spend their first night together) Humbert Humbert drugs Lolita with the sleeping pills that were given to him by Dr. Byron, the Haze family physician.

 

In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions Hurricane Lolita that swept from Florida to Main:

 

It was a year of Tempests: Hurricane

Lolita swept from Florida to Main.

Mars glowed. Shahs married. Gloomy Russians spied.

Lang made your portrait. And one night I died. (ll. 679-682)

 

In Pushkin’s poem Graf Nulin (“Count Null,” 1825), a parody of The Rape of Lucrece (a narrative poem by Shakespeare), Nulin mentions Mademoiselle Mars (a French actress, 1779-1847) and Lamartine (a French poet, 1790-1869):

 

«А что театр?» — О! сиротеет,
C’est bien mauvais, ça fait pitié.
Тальма совсем оглох, слабеет,
И мамзель Марс — увы! стареет.
Зато Потье, le grand Potier!
Он славу прежнюю в народе
Доныне поддержал один.
«Какой писатель нынче в моде?»
— Всё d’Arlincourt и Ламартин. —

 

In VNs novel Podvig (“Glory,” 1932) Martins uncle Henry declaims Lamartines poem Le Lac (“The Lake,” 1820):

Расшевелить его удавалось не всякому писателю. Он оставался холоден, когда, по дядиному совету, читал Ламартина, или когда сам дядя декламировал со всхлипом "Озеро", качая головой и удручённо приговаривая "Commе cst bеau!”

Not every writer was able to stir him. He remained unmoved when, on his uncle’s advice, he read Lamartine, or when his uncle himself declaimed “Le Lac” with a sob in his voice, shaking his head and adding with helpless emotion, “Comme c’est beau.” (chapter 15)

 

Kinbote’s Zembla has a lot in common with Martin’s and Sonia’s Zoorland. The characters of “Glory” include the writer Bubnov (Sonia’s lover to whom she gives away the secret of Zoorland). On the other hand, Bubnov is a character in Gorky’s play Na dne (“At the Bottom,” 1902). Dne (Prepositional case of dno, “bottom”) is end in reverse. In odno (neut. of odin, "one") there is dno. The central figure in Gorky’s play, Luka (starets lukavyi, “an arch old man”), brings to mind Caroline Lukin (the maiden name of Shade’s mother). According to Kinbote (the author of a book on surnames), the surname Lukin comes from Luke:

 

A Commentary where placid scholarship should reign is not the place for blasting the preposterous defects of that little obituary. I have only mentioned it because that is where I gleaned a few meager details concerning the poet's parents. His father, Samuel Shade, who died at fifty, in 1902, had studied medicine in his youth and was vice-president of a firm of surgical instruments in Exton. His chief passion, however, was what our eloquent necrologist calls "the study of the feathered tribe," adding that "a bird had been named for him: Bombycilla Shadei" (this should be "shadei," of course). The poet's mother, nee Caroline Lukin, assisted him in his work and drew the admirable figures of his Birds of Mexico, which I remember having seen in my friend's house. What the obituarist does not know is that Lukin comes from Luke, as also do Locock and Luxon and Lukashevich. It represents one of the many instances when the amorphous-looking but live and personal hereditary patronymic grows, sometimes in fantastic shapes, around the common pebble of a Christian name. The Lukins are an old Essex family. Other names derive from professions such as Rymer, Scrivener, Limner (one who illuminates parchments), Botkin (one who makes bottekins, fancy footwear) and thousands of others. (note to Line 71)

 

According to Humbert Humbert, Harold Haze and Charlotte Becker (Lolita’s parents) spent their honeymoon in Veracruz, Mexico. In Ramsdale Humbert Humbert and Charlotte go for a swim at the Hourglass Lake. Lolita’s Camp Q is located near Lakes Onyx, Eryx and Climax. Describing his stay with Lolita in The Enchanted Hunters, Humbert Humbert exclaims “Oh, Fame! Oh, Femina:”

 

“Does not he look exactly, but exactly, like Quilty?” said Lo in a soft voice, her sharp brown elbow not pointing, but visibly burning to point, at the lone diner in the loud checks, in the far corner of the room.

“Like our fat Ramsdale dentist?”

Lo arrested the mouthful of water she had just taken, and put down her dancing glass.

“Course not,” she said with a splutter of mirth. “I meant the writer fellow in the Dromes ad.”

Oh, Fame! Oh, Femina! (1.27)

 

In the draft Pushkin’s mock epic in octaves Domik v Kolomne (“A Small House in Kolomna,” 1830) has the epigraph from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (IV, 279-80): Modo vir, modo femina (now a man, now a woman). There is modo in Quasimodo, the hunchback in Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (1831). In VN’s Russian translation (1967) of Lolita Humbert Humbert mentions Victor Hugo, the author of L'Art d'être grand-père ("The Art of Being a Grandfather," 1877):

 

Мне теперь думается, что было большой ошибкой вернуться на восток и отдать ее в частную гимназию в Бердслее, вместо того чтобы каким-нибудь образом перебраться через мексиканскую границу, благо было так близко, и притаиться годика на два в субтропическом парадизе, после чего я мог бы преспокойно жениться на маленькой моей креолке; ибо, признаюсь, смотря по состоянию моих гланд и ганглий, я переходил в течение того же дня от одного полюса сумасшествия к другому - от мысли, что около 1950-ro года мне придется тем или иным способом отделаться от трудного подростка, чьё волшебное нимфетство к тому времени испарится, - к мысли, что при некотором прилежании и везении мне, может быть, удастся в недалеком будущем заставить ее произвести изящнейшую нимфетку с моей кровью в жилах, Лолиту Вторую, которой было бы восемь или девять лет в 1960-ом году, когда я еще был бы dans la force de l'age; больше скажу - у подзорной трубы моего ума или безумия, хватало силы различить в отдалении лет un vieillard encore vert (или это зелёненькое - просто гниль?), странноватого, нежного, слюнявого д-ра Гумберта, упражняющегося на бесконечно прелестной Лолите Третьей в "искусстве быть дедом", воспетом Виктором Гюго.

 

I now think it was a great mistake to move east again and have her go to that private school in Beardsley, instead of somehow scrambling across the Mexican border while the scrambling was good so as to lie low for a couple of years in subtropical bliss until I could safely marry my little Creole; for I must confess that depending on the condition of my glands and ganglia, I could switch in the course of the same day from one pole of insanity to the other from the thought that around 1950 I would have to get rid somehow of a difficult adolescent whose magic nymphage had evaporatedto the thought that with patience and luck I might have her produce eventually a nymphet with my blood in her exquisite veins, a Lolita the Second, who would be eight or nine around 1960, when I would still be dans la force de l’age; indeed, the telescopy of my mind, or un-mind, was strong enough to distinguish in the remoteness of time a vieillard encore vert - or was it green rot? - bizarre, tender, salivating Dr. Humbert, practicing on supremely lovely Lolita the Third the art of being a granddad. (2.3)

 

In Pushkin's poem Mednyi vsadnik ("The Bronze Horseman," 1833) subtitled Peterbugskaya povest' ("A St. Petersburg Tale") Eugene dreams of the future, imagines a married life and hopes that he and his wife will live long enough to be buried by their grand-children:

 

«Жениться? Мне? зачем же нет?
Оно и тяжело, конечно;
Но что ж, я молод и здоров,
Трудиться день и ночь готов;
Уж кое-как себе устрою
Приют смиренный и простой
И в нём Парашу успокою.
Пройдёт, быть может, год-другой —
Местечко получу, Параше
Препоручу семейство наше
И воспитание ребят...
И станем жить, и так до гроба
Рука с рукой дойдем мы оба,
И внуки нас похоронят...»

 

"Get married? Why not? I suppose

It’s not the lightest of decisions.

But then I’m young; my health is strong;

I’m ready to work hard and long;

We’ll find a place that can be rented

And build a simple, homely nest:

Parasha will be well contented.

And after some time, if we’re blessed

With children, and I get promotion,

I can entrust to her devotion

Child-rearing and the household tasks …

And so until we meet our Maker,

When our grandchildren in God’s acre

Will bury us – that’s all one asks …’

(Part One, tr. J. Dewey)

 

"A Small House in Kolomna," Pikovaya dama ("The Queen of Spades," 1833) and "The Bronze Horseman" belong to Pushkin's "St. Petersburg Tales." In Part Two of “The Bronze Horseman” Pushkin mentions bezdna (the abyss) and lik derzhavtsa polumira (the face of the half-planet's ruler):

О мощный властелин судьбы!
Не так ли ты над самой бездной
На высоте, уздой железной
Россию поднял на дыбы?

Кругом подножия кумира
Безумец бедный обошёл
И взоры дикие навёл
На лик державца полумира.

Oh, mighty sovereign of destiny!
Haven’t you similarly reared Russia
With an iron bridle on the eminence
Before the abyss ?

The poor madman walked around
The idol’s pedestal
And looked wildly at the face
Of the half-planet’s ruler.

 

In VN’s story Lik (1939) the title character is an actor who plays Igor in Suire’s play L'Abîme ("The Abyss"):

 

Есть пьеса "Бездна" (L'Abîme) известного французского писателя Suire. Она уже сошла со сцены, прямо в Малую Лету (т. е. в ту, которая обслуживает театр,-- речка, кстати сказать, не столь безнадежная, как главная, с менее крепким раствором забвения, так что режиссёрская удочка иное ещё вылавливает спустя много лет). В этой пьесе, по существу идиотской, даже идеально идиотской, иначе говоря -- идеально построенной на прочных условностях общепринятой драматургии, трактуется страстной путь пожилой женщины, доброй католички и землевладелицы, вдруг загоревшейся греховной страстью к молодому русскому, Igor, -- Игорю, случайно попавшему к ней в усадьбу и полюбившему её дочь Анжелику.

 

There is a play of the 1920s, called L'Abîme (The Abyss), by the well-known French author Suire. It has already passed from the stage straight into the Lesser Lethe (the one, that is, that serves the theater – a stream, incidentally, not quite as hopeless as the main river, and containing a weaker solution of oblivion, so that angling producers may still fish something out many years later). This play – essentially idiotic, even ideally idiotic, or, putting it another way, ideally constructed on the solid conventions of traditional dramaturgy – deals with the torments of a middle-aged, rich, and religious French lady suddenly inflamed by a sinful passion for a young Russian named Igor, who has turned up at her château and fallen in love with her daughter Angélique.

 

The name Suire seems to hint at à suivre (to be continued), a phrase used by V. Solovyov at the end of his poem Mikhailu Matveyevichu Stasyulevichu v den’ chuda Arkhangela Mikhaila v Khonekh (“To Mikhail Matveevich Stasyulevich on the Day of Miracle at Chonae by Archangel Michael,” 1896). Suivre (to follow) rhymes with cuivre (copper). The epithet mednyi comes from med’ (copper). A pair of shoes plays an important part in Lik. According to Kinbote (the author of a book on surnames), Botkin is one who makes bottekins (fancy footwear). Oblako, ozero, bashnya ("Cloud, Castle, Lake," 1937) is a story by VN.

 

On the other hand, lik derzhavtsa polumira (the face of the half of the world's ruler) brings to mind the Zemblan poluostrov (peninsula) and polu-kupets, polu-milord ("half-merchant, half-milord, etc."), as in his famous epigram (1824) Pushkin calls Count Vorontsov (the General Governor of New Russia, Pushkin's chief in Odessa):

 

Полу-милорд, полу-купец,
Полу-мудрец, полу-невежда,
Полу-подлец, но есть надежда,
Что будет полным наконец.

 

Half-milord, half-merchant,

Half-sage, half-ignoramus,

Half-scoundrel, but there's a hope

That he will be a full one at last.

 

There is nadezhda (a hope) that, when Kinbote completes his work on Shade's poem and commits suicide (on Oct. 19, 1959, the anniversary of Pushkin's Lyceum), Botkin will be full again. An American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus (the poet's murderer) after the tragic death of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade of Kinbote's Commentary). A philosopher and poet, Vladimir Solovyov had an elder brother Vsevolod (the novelist, author of a memoir essay on Dostoevski).

 

At the end of Part One of "The Bronze Horseman" Pushkin calls the equestrian statue of Peter I kumir na bronzovom kone ("the idol on a bronze horse"). In the Russian version of Lolita the name of Clare Quilty’s co-author, Vivian Darkbloom, becomes Vivian Damor-Blok and the title of her book on CQ, “My Cue,” Kumir moy (“My Idol”):

 

Г-жа Вивиан Дамор-Блок (Дамор - по сцене, Блок - по одному из первых мужей) написала биографию бывшего товарища под каламбурным заглавием "Кумир мой", которая скоро должна выйти в свет; критики, уже ознакомившиеся с манускриптом, говорят, что это лучшая её вещь. (John Ray’s Foreword)

 

At the end of his MS poem "Poet idyot: otkryty vezhdy..." (“The poet goes: his eyes are wide open...”) quite arbitrarily inserted by the editors in the gap of his unfinished novella Egipetskie nochi (“The Egyptian Nights,” 1835) Pushkin compares the poet to Desdemona who, without asking anybody, chooses kumir (the idol) for her heart:

 

Таков поэт: как Аквилон
Что хочет, то и носит он —
Орлу подобно, он летает
И, не спросясь ни у кого,
Как Дездемона избирает
Кумир для сердца своего.

 

Duchess of Payn, of Great Payn and Mone, Queen Disa (the wife of Charles the Beloved) seems to blend Leonardo’s Mona Lisa with Desdemona (Othello's wife in Shakespeare’s Othello). The Leonardo is the English title of VN’s story Korolyok (1933). Korolyok is a diminutive of korol’ (“king”). VN’s novel Korol’, dama, valet (“King, Queen, Knave,” 1928) was criticized by G. Ivanov in an offensive article that appeared in the Paris émigré review Chisla (Numbers, #1, 1930). According to G. Ivanov, to his question "does a sonnet need a coda" Alexander Blok replied that he did not know what a coda is. In his poem Dvenadtsat’ (“The Twelve,” 1918) Blok mentions bubnovyi tuz (the ace of diamonds on a Russian convict’s back) that would fit the backs of the twelve Red Army soldiers:

 

В зубах - цыгарка, примят картуз,
На спину б надо бубновый туз!

 

The ace of diamonds would fit their backs.
Fires mark their nightly tracks. (2)

 

Voskresshie bogi. Leodardo da Vinchi (“Resurrected Gods. Leonardo da Vinci,” 1900) is a novel by Merezhkovski. In his poem Dvoynaya bezdna (“The Double Abyss,” 1901), whose title was borrowed from Tyutchev’s poem Lebed’ (“The Swan,” 1839), Merezhkovski says that life and death are the two abysses reflected in each other as in a mirror:

И смерть и жизнь - родные бездны;
Они подобны и равны,
Друг другу чужды и любезны,
Одна в другой отражены.

Одна другую углубляет,
Как зеркало, а человек
Их съединяет, разделяет
Своею волею навек.

 

Abîme (“Abyss”) is a poem by Victor Hugo included in La Légende des siècles (The Legend of the Ages, 1859-83). In a letter of April 21-22, 1877, to Strakhov Leo Tolstoy calls Flaubert’s story La légende de Saint-Julien l'hospitalier in Turgenev’s translation merzost’ (a nasty thing) and quotes the words of Chelovek (Man) and of Zemlya (Earth) in Hugo’s poem Abîme:

 

У меня был «Вестник Европы». Потехина повесть хороша; но что за мерзость Флобера, перевод Тургенева. Это возмутительная гадость. А все ругают V. Hugo. A он там говорит в разговоре земли с человеком:

Человек: Je suis ton roi.

Земля: Tu es ma vermine. Ну-ка, отчего они не сказали так?

 

In Hugo's poem L’Homme (Man) says: “Earth, I am your king” and La Terre replies: “you are but my worm.” Chapter Two of Pushkin's "Egyptian Nights" has the epigraph from Derzhavin's ode Bog ("God," 1784): Ya tsar', ya rab, ya cherv', ya bog ("I'm a king, I'm a slave, I'm a worm, I'm God"). In Canto Three of his poem Shade describes IPH (a lay Institute of Preparation for the Hereafter) where he was engaged to lecture on the Worm (as President McAber wrote). In a discarded variant (quoted by Kinbote in his Commentary) Shade says: "I like my name: Shade, Ombre, almost "man" / in Spanish..." At the end of Hugo's poem Abîme Dieu (God) says:

 

Je n'aurais qu'à souffler, et tout serait de l'ombre.

I could only breathe, and everything would shadow.