The Return from the Freudian Islands


When they heard Sigmund the Saviour in these coasts
The islanders were very much impressed;
Abandoned the worship of their fathers’ ghosts
And dedicated temples to their guest,

Shocked and delighted as the saint revealed
The unacknowledged body and made them see,
Suppressed by corsets, morbidly concealed
In cotton combinations, neck to knee,

How it bred night-sweats, the disease of shame,
Corns, fluxions, baldness and the sense of sin,
How clothes to the Analytic Eye became
Fantasies, furtive symbols of the skin.

At first the doctrine took them all by storm;
Urged to be stark, they peeled as they were told;
Forgetting their rags had also kept them warm,
For the island climate is often extremely cold.

And if the old, the wry, the ugly shared
Some natural reluctance to begin it,
Enthusiasts all, the young at once declared
Their Brave Nude World, that had such people in it.

Till some discovered that stripping to the buff
Only exposed the symbol of The Hide:
Its sinister pun unmasked, it must come off,
The saint must preach The Visible Inside!

The saint, though somewhat startled at this view,
Trapped by the logic of his gospel, spent
Some time in prayer, and in a week or two,
To demonstrate the new experiment,

Breastless and bald, with ribbed arms, lashless eyes,
In intricate bandages of human meat,
With delicate ripple and bulge of muscled thighs,
The first skinned girl walked primly down the street.

Though there were many to admire her charms:
The strappings and flexures of twig-like toes, the skeins
And twisted sensitive cables of her arms,
The pectoral fans, the netting of nerves and veins:

Yet those who followed her example found
One lack—till Sigmund undertook to prove
How much their late behaviour centred round
A common skin disease they had called love.

And for a time they thoroughly enjoyed
The brisk intolerance of the purified,
In sects and schisms before The Holy Freud
Self-torn—while lesser saints were deified.

Till Faith, which never can let well alone,
From heresy and counter-heresy
Prompted the saint to bare beneath the bone
The Ultimate Visceral Reality.

Long time he mused before The Sacred Id,
Long prayed, before he finally began
And, purged, impersonal, uninhibited,
Produced at last The Basic Freudian Man.

At the Fertility Festival that year
The skinned men blushed to see the skeleton,
A bone-cage filled with female guts appear
Tottering before them in the midday sun.

Its slats and levering rods they saw, the full
Cogged horseshoe grin of two and thirty teeth,
The frantic eyeballs swivelling in the skull,
The swagging human umbles underneath,

The soft wet mottled granite of the lung
Bulge and collapse, the liver worn askew
Jauntily quiver, the plump intestines hung
In glistening loops and bolsters in their view,

And clear through gut and bowel the mashy chyme
Churn downward; jelled in its transparent sheath
The scowling foetus tethered, and the time
Bomb tumour set unguessed its budded death.

And while for them with mannequin grace she swayed
Her pelvis, Sigmund, so that none should miss
The beauty of the new world he had made,
Explained The Triumph of Analysis:

Pimples and cramps now shed with pelt and thews,
No dreams to fright, no visions to trouble them,
For, where the death-wish and self-knowledge fuse,
They had at last The Human L.C.M.…

Here the saint paused, looked modestly at the ground
And waited for their plaudits to begin.
And waited … There was nothing! A faint, dry sound
As first a poet buttoned on his skin.

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