Friday, September 30, 2016

"Dialogue in the Confessional"

Our staff is still busily preparing Volume One of  Arnold Schnabel's memoirs for publication in time for the holiday gift-giving season, and so, once again, in the temporary absence of new episodes of Arnold's saga, we present one of his classic poems.

The following brilliant sonnet – which sheds a bemusing light on Arnold Schnabel’s sexuality – was submitted by Arnold to the
Olney Times for the August 10th, 1963, issue. Not surprisingly  – considering its bold treatment of a subject matter which Arnold had always previously dealt with in the most thickly-veiled terms, if at all – the poem was rejected by the paper’s editor, Silas Willingham III. What is slightly surprising is that after almost twenty-five years of publishing Arnold’s poems on a weekly basis (Arnold had continued to submit poems by V-mail even when serving in the European Theatre in WWII), Willingham had only rejected one other poem, “Committed Bachelor”, which Arnold had submitted apparently just a few weeks previously. Upon finding “Dialogue in the Confessional” unsuitable for the family audience of the Olney Times, but not wanting to leave Arnold’s fans bereft, Willingham had second thoughts about “Committed Bachelor” and ran that in the August 10th issue instead.

“Dialogue in the Confessional”, one of Arnold’s most humorous yet flowing and masterfully composed sonnets, remained unpublished until it was recently discovered in the files of the Arnold Schnabel Society at the Oak Lane Library in Arnold's old Philadelphia neighborhood.

“Dialogue in the Confessional”

I went to confession and told the priest
about what I had done and that Jesus
had said it was okay; I heard the least
intake of breath; “Sex is not to please us,”
he said after a long pause, “but to bring
children into the world, within the state
of holy matrimony.” “But the thing
is,” I said, “no man and wife procreate
each time they perform the act; is it wrong
then, when they do it and fail conception?”
“No, no, of course not,” he said, “Just so long
as they’re wed, their love is no exception
to the rule.” “Right,” I said, “But what if, say –”
“Three Hail Marys,” he said. “Now go away.”

(Kindly go to the right hand column of this page for links to many other Arnold Schnabel poems as well as to our on-going serialization of his previously unpublished memoir Railroad Train to Heaven. New episodes will be forthcoming as soon as Volume One has been published.)


Unknown said...

What I like (and always liked) about this sonnet is how natural it sounds.

Dan Leo said...

Arnold thanks you, Kathleen!