NABOKV-L post 0019734, Wed, 31 Mar 2010 11:39:02 -0600

Re: THOUGHTS: Poor old man Swift
On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 7:46 PM, Jansy <> wrote:

> Matthew Roth: Just a trifle I ran across while reading about the last
> days of Swift in Craik's "The Life of Jonathan Swift" (1894):"Looking at
> himself in the glass, he was said to have exclaimed in pity, 'Poor old
> man!'." I wonder if this provides the origin of Shade's variant line,
> "Poor old man Swift, poor --, poor Baudelaire." In which case, was John
> Shade also looking in the glass when he wrote that line?
> *JM*: Kinbote suggests his name to fill in the blank ( poor mad Kinbote). The
> poet, himself, was paring his fingernails. We know that he used a mirror
> while he shaved in the bath-tub ( or was it only VN?).
> Your information about Swift's exclamation, and its link to the variant, is
> wonderful!


> While I re-read the lines in question, and I don't know if any entomologist
> has already called attention to it (should it be an incongruent detail, I
> mean), I was struck by the reference to singing cicadas. I understand
> that, in the US, cicadas come out in July.

It depends on the species. Periodical cicadas (*Magicicada*) come out in
April, May, or early June, depending on the climate (Wikip), not that those
months matter to your question below.

> I'd always thought that the squat and frog-eyed emerald case (line 238) had
> been a cicada's but the empty hulk was found in cold March, on the day
> Hazel died. This suggested to me that this insect had recently emerged from
> it: is it possible?

I doubt it. The "case" would have lasted from the previous year, which I
think is possible.

Jerry Friedman

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