Thursday, August 9, 2007

Arnold Schnabel under the Bodhi Tree

This unassuming little sonnet from Arnold Schnabel appeared first in the Olney Times of August 3, 1963. It is notable however for being the first of Schnabel’s poems to make a possible reference to the smoking of cannabis, and for being definitely the first one to refer at all indulgently to another religion besides Roman Catholicism.

(Rebroadcast courtesy of the Arnold Schnabel Society, at whose monthly meeting at the Oak Lane Library this poem was recently read by the famous actor Matthew Perry.)

“Escaping the Heat”

It’s too hot to think, to write or to create,
And so to escape the oppressive heat
I go to see some friends who operate
An air-conditioned shop on Jackson Street.
My friends make trinkets from pebbles that they get
Off the beach, and from shells and other stuff on it,
From nothing much at all, just as a certain poet
Of my acquaintance will jury-rig a sonnet
From the flotsam and the jetsam of a life
He’s somehow always forgotten or declined to live.
My friends seem happy nonetheless to see me,
And we go back to the workroom (the air rife
With solder) where they’re so very good as to give
Me a smoke, as we sit and talk of the Bodhi Tree.

(Please cast your eye over to the right hand column of this page to find links to other fine poems from Arnold Schnabel, as well as to our ongoing serialization of his lauded {“Utterly spell-binding.” -- Wm. F. Buckley} memoir, Railroad Train to Heaven.)


Anonymous said...

As so often when I read an Arnold Schnabel poem, now I feel like I'm sitting under the Bodhi Tree myself. And I don't feel like getting up yet.

Unknown said...

Manny says he lived like that for years. He made stained glass windows for bars and didn't write a sonnet until five years ago. Just when did Schnabel die again? I keep forgetting; he seems so alive.

Dan Leo said...

Sounds like a nice gig, making stained glass!

Arnold passed away in 1969, Kathleen, but his spirit will stay with us forever.

Dan Leo said...


All you Schnabelians who want to read some beautiful prose, do check out our commenter Kathleen's own site, Diary of a Heretic: