by Vladimir Nabokov
begins with a beautiful poem
. It speaks of the suicide
of the poet's daughter and his search for answers
. Let me copy the opening lines:
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
I was the smudge of ashen fluff - and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.
The bird thinks the reflection of the sky in the window is an extension of the space around it. It strikes and kills itself on the window, and the poet projects himself in the image of this bird's soul leaving its body to fly on into the afterlife.
These lines echo some themes of death and reflection throughout the poem. While I'm not nearly as articulate enough to express my own interpretation of these lines, I find the imagery quite beautiful. The parallels of the bird to the poet's daughter, for instance, might be valid -- both were quite fragile and were 'deceived', innocently enough, by the promise shown before them.
The foreward and commentary are written by another character, one who seems quite deranged yet is humorous because of his blindness to his own faults. Through the information he supplements (if you could call it as such) to each line of the poem, two additional stories unfold. It is with great skill that, in a single piece of work, Nabokov can intertwine poetry and prose; stories of regicide, homicide, and suicide; and unrequited admiration.