It’s been some little time since we’ve featured a newly unearthed Arnold Schnabel poem; we thought that this sonnet would be suitable for the dog days. Published only once previously, in the Olney Times for August 10, 1962, in that troubled but artistically rich period preceding Arnold’s complete mental breakdown in January of the following year.
The streets shimmer as the old women stag-
ger with their pendulant sacks filled with God
knows what. “Potatoes mostly,” says the wag
on the corner watching all the world’s odd-
ness float past him, smiling indifferent-
ly, even as the world evident-
ly ignores him. “You see it’s for pota-
to soup. They make it every single day.
They think that we're all still in the Depress-
ion. Oh, by the way, do you think that you --”
I toss him a dime, and with the sun press-
ing against my back, I walk on, home to
Mother through these streets so bright;
She's made some potato soup for tonight.
(Kindly look to the right hand column of this page to find a listing of links to many of the other fine poems of Arnold Schnabel, suitable for declamation at weddings, retirement parties, and funeral obsequies. This broadcast made possible thanks to the kind permission of the Arnold Schnabel Society of Philadelphia.)
Oh how I've missed Arnold's poetry. This one's vivid with a casual voice, beautiful construction, and kindness. I hadn't realized how rare pure kindness has become until I read it out loud.
Did Arnold ever do readings?
loverly. And it doesn't feel old at all.
Kathleen, Arnold did give at least one reading, which is touched on here.
You are a man of consummate good taste, Dean! In the words of the noted critic Harold Bloom, "If a poet could be compared to a libation, then surely Schnabel would be a cold beaded mug of Ortlieb's, a beer which like the poet is sadly no longer with us, but whose memory, like the poet's art, shall remain forever verdant."
I now feel the need to make some potato soup to commemorate both Arnold and August...
Jen,I want some of that potato soup, please. I don't think I've had it in decades.
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