Pale Fire, the poem is an ironic piece, but the feelings of pathos and tragedy bleed through the irony.I love you when you’re standing on the lawn
Peering at something in a tree: “It’s gone.
It was so small. It might come back” (all this
Voiced in a whisper softer than a kiss).
I love you when you call me to admire
A jet’s pink trail above the sunset fire.
I love you when you’re humming as you pack
A suitcase or the farcical car sack
With round-trip zipper. And I love you most
When with a pensive nod you greet her ghost
And hold her first toy on your palm, or look
At a postcard from her, found in a book.This stanza begins with extraordinary insipidness; an adolescent-like use of parallelism,and the common affectation of poetry as pretty language embodied in the line:Voiced in a whisper softer than a kissBut this is its ironic charm...
And the hallucinogenic compounding of Hazel's last night with the television programminghas to be considered daring. PF, as a poem, pretty much succeeds or fails based onthe reader's reaction to that device.
(The hopelessly archaic Ruy Lopes, the Spanish,was nevertheless Fischer's favorite opening.Long live the preterists!)
As you say there is a balancing going on through out all of Pale Fire, the poem,between irony and parody on one side and pathos and authentic emotion on the other.VN/Shade wants the reader to be moved by Hazel's suicide, but not too moved, not to tears,and so the humorously unlikely place names, Exe to Wye, are mentioned right in the middleof the pathetic climax. Very Shakespearean I'd say. I pray you, remember the porter.
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