NABOKV-L post 0014515, Wed, 27 Dec 2006 17:54:08 -0800

shadow of a bird image

I still find it difficult to visualize exactly what Shade is describing in
the opening lines of his Pale Fire. -- Charles

Dear Charles,

I've always pictured a glass roof with the little bird flying against the
slope and the poet looking up. Doesn't make any sense of course now that I
think about it, unless Shade actually lived in a glass house.

But to think seriously, the only way the poet could be in the shadow of the
bird, the sun would either have to be "at 9 o'clock" or "at 3 o'clock" and
the bird, window and poet on the sun side of the house in a fairly exact
alignment. The house was old, so the window must have been of modest size,
not one of those modern plate glass affairs. Possibly it could only happen
on one day of the year (like Stonehenge) either mid-winter or mid-summer - -
St John's eve is it? depending on how the house itself is aligned.

Interesting query. Of course the whole image could simply be a metaphor. If
Sylvia and Sybil are birds, presumably their mate(s) would also be avian.
Another indication perhaps that Shade is not shot, but lives on, flies on as
the Kinbote-bird (anyone for Peter Pan)?


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