Tuesday, 1 October 2013

1 Dates

Waking up in the middle of the night
Thinking I hadn't slept
Waiting for the stocking
And the morning and fried eggs.

 The ribbon and the wrapping,
The batteries they forgot to buy,
The tiny clothes that mummy knitted,
The paper chains that came unstuck.
The tangerine, the walnuts,
The chocolate pennies and the sugar mouse.
Snowballs with a cherry,
Babycham and sherry,
Roast chicken and brussels sprouts,
The sixpence in the pudding,
The rabbit blancmange and trifle,
The Queen and the Christmas tree.
Aunties and Uncles and Nana
My little brother, mum and dad.
The Christmas cake with marzipan,
A real coal fire and chestnuts,
The selection box all eaten now,
The Roses and the Quality Street
And fighting for the whirly one
The brazil nut and the orange cream.

But nestled in their coffin box
All lined with ruffled white,
Camels and palm trees and pyramids,
Handsome kings and desert sands,
Eat me!
Eat me!
The fat brown fruit cries out.

And the real mystery of Christmas is this,
Who ever ate the dates?

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Page 31 
First word : dates.

Such is the power of Nabokov's use of the English  language ( not his own) , that despite the unlikeable subject matter and the equally unlikeable protagonists, the narrative sweeps us along, drawn in and down and under, completely immersed and drowning in that rare and particular heaven that all literary experiences   should be. Extraordinary and ugly and beautiful and unforgettable.

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