Stanza/Commentary/Pale Fire Response Paper

“We have been married forty years. At least
Four thousand times your pillow has been creased
By our two heads. Four hundred thousand times
The tall clock with the hoarse Westminster chimes
Has marked our common hour. How many more
Free calendars shall grace the kitchen door?” (280)

Note to lines 275-280:

A draft of this stanza appeared on a notecard that I saw through Shade’s illuminated window one evening. However, upon opening the envelope in my forest hideaway, I discovered that the notecard was not present. It’s likely that Mrs. Shade, the great censor, forced John to destroy it. I reproduce it from memory here.

We have been married forty years. At least
Four thousand times your pillow has been creased
By our two heads. But wax and waned the moon,
Each night I hear cries of the loon,
It flaps and shifts its wing,
And believes that it is king

We see here an obvious reference to Zembla’s national bird, the majestic loon. How happy am I to see that Shade has been listening! His reference to the king must be related to the most fascinating scholarly article about chess that I saw him reading two weeks and three days ago.

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