Friday, September 28, 2007

Arnold Schnabel’s persistent friend

This sonnet by Arnold Schnabel first appeared in the Olney Times of August 17, 1963. The Times’s venerable editor Silas Willingham III would appear to have resigned himself to Arnold’s new frankness; either that or he simply published the poem unread beforehand.

Biographical evidence tells us that Arnold was at this time reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land for the first time, but, as usual, he seems to be blithely resistant to literary influence.

(This poem published thanks to the good ladies and gentlemen of the Arnold Schnabel Society.)

“My Invisible Friend”

I know it’s not strange for a child to
Have an invisible friend, but what of
A man of forty-two? It seems wild to
Be seen talking not of love but of
Matters carnal, over a cigarette
And a beer, to a man no one can see,
Even if, as he won’t let you forget,
He is the son of the Divinity.
It’s true that he came to me when my night
Boded well never to end, and he led
Me back to a day that was filled with light,
But now it would be nice if he, instead
Of showing up quite in person, would just
Say hello in a mote of sundrenched dust.

(For links to many other classic poems of Arnold Schnabel, as well as to our serialization of his previously unpublished memoir Railroad Train to Heaven, please turn to the right hand column of this page.)


Anonymous said...

Ahhh! His race toward the abyss seems to be taking on speed!


"blithely resistant to literary influence"

would describe oh so many of my neighbors. I wonder if they're being visited by The Holy Smokes as well.

Unknown said...

The poem is beautiful. Arnold is an original. Sometimes the best writers, the real ones, are those resistant to literary influence. Arnold writes from the heart, without imitating anyone. And isn't that amazing? Doesn't the world have enough, hasn't it always had more than enough, T.S. Eliot imitators?

P.S. Shouldn't some scholar/editor write a dissertation, if not a footnote, as to why the "s" in "son of the Divinity" isn't capitalized?

Dan Leo said...

Kathleen, I'm only guessing here, but I suspect that Arnold's use of the lower case for all the nouns and pronouns referring to his friend might indicate his uncertainty as to the friend's divine status.