In a variant of ll. 231-234 quoted by Kinbote in his Commentary (note to Line 231) Shade mentions “pets, revived, and invalids, grown well” who dwell in a strange Other World:


Strange Other World where all our still-born dwell,
And pets, revived, and invalids, grown well,
And minds that died before arriving there:
Poor old man Swift, poor —-, poor Baudelaire


In his poem Pamyati kota Murra (“In Memory of the Tomcat Murr,” 1934) Hodasevich mentions poetov i zverey vozlyublennye teni (the beloved shades of poets and animals) enjoying the deserved rest of eternity in the gardens beyond the river of fire:


В забавах был так мудр и в мудрости забавен -
Друг утешительный и вдохновитель мой!
Теперь он в тех садах, за огненной рекой,
Где с воробьём Катулл и с ласточкой Державин.

О, хороши сады за огненной рекой,
Где черни подлой нет, где в благодатной лени
Вкушают вечности заслуженный покой
Поэтов и зверей возлюбленные тени!

Когда ж и я туда? Ускорить не хочу
Мой срок, положенный земному лихолетью,
Но к тем, кто выловлен таинственною сетью,
Всё чаще я мечтой приверженной лечу.


According to Hodasevich, his dead cat is now in those gardens where Catullus is with the sparrow and Derzhavin with the swallow. Shade’s parents were ornithologists. According to Kinbote, Irondell (the maiden name of Shade’s wife) comes from the French for “swallow” (hirondelle). At the beginning (and at the end) of his unfinished poem Shade says that he was “the shadow of the waxwing.” In the epigraph to PF Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge is mentioned. In his Commentary (note to Lines 47-48) Kinbote mentions his landlord’s cat. Judge Goldsworth (K.’s landlord) is an authority on Roman Law. Catullus was a Roman poet.


The river of fire mentioned by Hodasevich is the Phlegethon (one of the five rivers surrounding Hades). Pushkin’s poem Prozerpina (“Proserpine,” 1824) begins:


Плещут волны Флегетона,

Своды тартара дрожат,

Кони бледного Плутона

Быстро к нимфам Пелиона

Из аида бога мчат.


The waves of the Phlegethon splash.

The vaults of Tartarus tremble,

Pale Pluto’s horses

Quickly whisk the god out of Hades

To the nymphs of Peleus.


In a letter to Pushkin Delvig compared Prozerpina to the singing of a bird of paradise. Villa Disa built by Queen Disa’s grandfather in Nice was initially called (in Zemblan) Villa Paradisa. The phrase iz aida (out of Hades) in Pushkin’s poem brings to mind “Aida” (as in “The Gift” Shchyogolev sometimes calls Zina Mertz). According to Fyodor, Zina (in whose surname there is a half-shimmer) is half-Mnemosyne.


In his Ballada (“A Ballad,” 1925) Hodasevich says that he wants to go mad when he sees an armless man go to the movies with his pregnant wife:


Мне невозможно быть собой,

Мне хочется сойти с ума,

Когда с беременной женой

Идёт безрукий в синема.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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