Saturday, June 23, 2007

Arnold Schnabel does not need you, Calliope!

Arnold Schnabel -- still staying (with his mother) at his aunts’ rooming house in Cape May, NJ, and temporarily bereft of ideas even in this exotic locale -- here somehow summons inspiration even from his very lack of inspiration. Note the complex, even tortuous, rhyme-scheme and the typically Schnabelian note of disquietude with which this stunning sonnet ends. First published in the Olney Times of June 29, 1963. Grateful thanks and all due homage to the Arnold Schnabel Society for permission to rebroadcast this poem.


I seem to have been abandoned by my muse,
But I’ve never let that stop me before;
There are so many topics from which to choose,
The poet need only turn the knob of a door
In his brain, walk through, and there, it’s his,
Real as that life to which he wakes with a scream is:
A new world, of which every little bit’s as
Real as a dream, and of course a dream is
Real when you are in it, and, often like the waking
World, a cause not for celebration but for quaking
In fear; but the poet now flies between
The waking and sleeping worlds, taking
What’s most real from both and making
Visible the unseen, and sacred the obscene.

(For links to many other vertiginous poems from Arnold Schnabel, and for a thrilling ride in his previously unpublished memoirs Railroad Train to Heaven, kindly check the right hand column of this page.)


Anonymous said...

OK, I know this is the one Arnold Schnabel poem that turns up in all the anthologies and all, but to me it's just a little bit too nicey nicey. I mean for Schnabel. Like, what, no demons?

Anonymous said...

Becker, I've told you before, you wouldn't know a good poem if it came up and bit you on the ass! I think this poem is cute. So shove that up your sweet patootie and smoke it, you old grouch!

Anonymous said...

"Visible the unseen, and sacred the obscene."
very dig, daddy o

Dan Leo said...

Dear anon, I thank you, and, somewhere, Arnold thanks you. I am in correspondance with a certain young fellow who's doing his doctoral dissertation on Schnabel's later ('63-'69) poems, and he's using "Visible the Unseen, and Sacred the Obscene" as the title of his monograph.