Archive for the '61 Years Old' Category

Sixty-One Year Old: John Shade

There was the day when I began to doubt

Man’s sanity: How could he live without

Knowing for sure what dawn, what death, what doom

Awaited consciousness beyond the tomb?

And finally there was the sleepless night

When I decided to explore and fight

The foul, the inadmissible abyss

Devoting all my twisted life to this                                       180

One task. Today I’m sixty-one. Waxwings

Are berry-picking. A cicada sings.


Line 167: There was a time, etc.

The poet began Canto Two (on his fourteenth card) on July 5, his sixtieth birthday (see note to line 181, ‘today’). My slip – change to sixty-first.

Line 181: Today

Namely, July 5th, 1959, 6th Saturday after Trinity. Shade began writing Canto Two ‘early in the morning’ (thus noted at the top of Card 14). He continued (down to line 208) on and off throughout the day. Most of the evening and a part of the night were devoted to what his favourite eighteenth-century writers have termed ‘the Bustle and Vanity of the World.’ After the last guest had gone (on a bicycle), and the ashtrays had been emptied, all the windows were dark for a couple of hours; but then, at about 3 a.m., I saw from my upstairs bathroom that the poet had gone back to his desk in the lilac light of his den, and this nocturnal session brought the canto to line 230 (card 18). On another trip to the bathroom an hour and half later, at sunrise, I found the light transferred to the bedroom, and smiled indulgently, for, according to my deductions, only two nights had passed since the three-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-ninth time – but no matter. A few minutes later all was solid darkness again, and I went back to bed.

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Published in: 61 Years Old | on January 1st, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Sixty-One Year Old: Gwen Cellan-Davies

 In the bedroom Gwen was at her dressing-table putting foundation on her face. Malcolm came round the door in his silent, looming way and caught sight of her in the glass. Something about the angle or the light made him look at her more closely than usual. She had always been a soft, rounded, fluffy sort of creature, not ineffectual but yielding in her appearance and movements. That had not changed; at sixty-one – his age too – her cheeks and jaws held their shape and the skin under her eyes was remarkably supple. But now those deep-set eyes of hers had an expression he thought he had not noticed before, intent, almost hard, and her mouth likewise was firmly set as she smoothed the sides of her nose. Probably just the concentration – in a second she saw him and relaxed, a comfortable young-elderly woman with gently tinted light-brown hair and wearing a blue-and-white check trouser suit you might have expected on someone slightly more juvenile, but not at all ridiculous on her.

Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils 


Published in: 61 Years Old | on January 1st, 2012 | 1 Comment »