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,
And from the inside, too, I'd duplicate
Myself, my lamp, an apple on a plate:
Uncurtaining the night, I'd let dark glass
Hang all the furniture above the grass,
And how delightful when a fall of snow
Covered my glimpse of lawn and reached up so
As to make chair and bed exactly stand
Upon that snow, out in that crystal land!
- John Shade (Vladimir Nabokov)
If you read it carefully you'd come to understand that in these beautiful and effortless lines Nabokov is describing the reflection on a windowpane from the point of view of a bug who has just crashed into it. The bug imagines its own smudge on the glass as being alive since it has life and activity to it. The life and activity which it has exists by virtue of the fact that its background, which is the reflection of the sky on the glass, is continuously changing with changing cloud patterns, hence giving the lifeless smudge a borrowed existence! Pale Fire is a beautiful and courageous work. Its structure is highly experimental and when it boasts of prose and verse this exquisite, how can one not stand in awe.