NABOKV-L post 0026466, Mon, 21 Sep 2015 21:46:49 +0300

lemniscate in Pale Fire
In Canto One of his poem Shade mentions a lemniscates:

In sleeping dreams I played with other chaps
But really envied nothing--save perhaps
The miracle of a lemniscate left
Upon wet sand by nonchalantly deft
Bicycle tires. (ll. 135-139)

Kinbote’s note to Line 137 (lemniscate):

"A unicursal bicircular quartic" says my weary old dictionary. I cannot
understand what this has to do with bicycling and suspect that Shade's
phrase has no real meaning. As other poets before him, he seems to have
fallen here under the spell of misleading euphony.

To take a striking example: what can be more resounding, more resplendent,
more suggestive of choral and sculptured beauty, than the word coramen? In
reality, however, it merely denotes the rude strap with which a Zemblan
herdsman attaches his humble provisions and ragged blanket to the meekest of
his cows when driving them up to the vebodar (upland pastures).

The infinity symbol ∞ is sometimes called “lemniscate.” ∞ is a poem by
Nik. T-o (I. Annenski) included in Tikhie pesni (“Quiet Songs,” 1904):

Девиз Таинственной похож
На опрокинутое 8:
Она - отраднейшая ложь
Из всех, что мы в сознаньи носим.

В кругу эмалевых минут
Её свершаются обеты,
А в сумрак звёздами блеснут
Иль ветром полночи пропеты.

Но где светил погасших лик
Остановил для нас теченье,
Там Бесконечность - только миг,
Дробимый молнией мученья.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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