I died. The sycamores gave shade;
shutters were shut upon the dust
of the hot streets steamily teased
by the torrid Aeolus.
I slowly walked, and the fauns walked;
It seemed as though I recognised
the great god Pan in every faun.
Good. I must be in Paradise.
Shielding her face against the sun,
there stood a naked, slender girl;
her honeyed skin attracted me;
lilies were threaded in her curls.
She had the grace of a woman.
I watched her small nipples harden
and I recalled a sweet springtime
in another new-grown garden,
when through the trees by the river,
I had one time watched, emboldened,
the miller’s youngest daughter step
out of the water, lithe, golden,
with a damp wisp between her legs.
And now, still wearing the coat
I had on when murdered last night,
with a rake’s predatory gloat,
I advanced upon my Lilith.
She stared at me with her green eyes,
until my clothes burst into flame
and burnt to ashes in a trice.
In the room behind her I saw
a Greek divan, a spread-out shawl,
a table, pomegranates, wine;
some erotic art covering the wall.
With two fingers she shamelessly
took hold of my hot member’s head
with unselfconscious, childish glee.
“Now come along with me,” she said.
Without inducement or effort,
but slowly to extend delight,
like wings, she gradually opened
her soft sweet brown thighs to my sight.
How enticing, how inviting,
her moist pink rose! And with a wild
cry, she fell on my throbbing length,
slicker than that remembered child.
Snake in snake, vessel in vessel,
smooth-fitting parts, I moved in her
through ascending rhythms, feeling
unendurable pleasure stir.
But suddenly she flinched, and pushed
me off her, moved fast, stood over
me, grasped the shawl and twisted it
around her waist and up, covered
and strong again; with me about
to come, to spend, for me, nothing
left. A strange wind made me stagger.
I ran to the door. “Let me in!”
I shouted, noticing with horror,
that I stood outside in the dust
where loudly-yelling youngsters
were staring at my engorged lust.
“Let me come in!” And the goat-hoofed
crowd increased. “Quick, let me come in!”
“I am about to come…” I yelled.
The door stayed shut, the crowd watched, quiet,
as I spurted out my semen.
I knew then that I was in hell.
by Vladimir Nabokov
Translated into English by R J Dent
Copyright © R J Dent (2016)
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