Thursday, March 9, 2017

Psychopathia Sexualis

Forget about Fifty Shades of Gray. This book, the notorious Psychopathia Sexualis, a medical tome on perversions and fetishes, came out in paperback when I was an adolescent. My friends and I had many laughs imagining the plight of shoe fetishists and masochists from reading its pages, although the really lurid bits were in the Latin footnotes (not translated in that edition). For many decades this book, in hardcover, could only be bought if you knew someone who knew someone. A classics professor at Brown University told me that a textbook salesman had offered him a copy, warning him that some men had gone mad from reading it. So here it is, for free. Download and read at your peril.
Download Kraft-Ebbing Book

The Watcher

The love that does not touch, that makes
     no penetration,
requires no mirror back to verify
that what is real is real.

This love excels all lovers.
The unmailed letter superior
     to the letter returned unread,
the passion that leaves the eye
     as a gift to beauty.

Love thus, in secret, and love again.
Enlarge the heart
     (O it has many chambers!)
If the loved one be as oblivious
     as a fieldstone,
so be it! Moss clings, sun warms,
water wears down — there are many ways
to make love to granite.
You say the love you give
is not returned to you?
Leave to the bankers
the keeping of balances,
the squeezing out
     of interest.

Love is returned, somehow,
in the ease of future loving,
the cavalcade of youth
pressing on by

as you watch from the café window,
marveling there is so much in you
beaming back at them,
so many qualities and curves,
neck napes and striding legs,
sungold, raven black and pumpkin hair,
and the gemstone eyes
of onyx, turquoise, emerald and hazel —

what would they be
if you were not there to love them?
what coal-mine darkness
    would they walk in,
if we did not spark them
with our admiration.

Be not jealous of touching.
Does not the air,
   thick with the ghosts
      of the world’s love cries
press down upon you?
Do not the star lamps
warm you? Does not the tide
crash out your name
upon the lonely cliffs?

Without desire, the universe
would cool to neutrons;
the whirligig of being
would slow to a stop.
So storm out! radiate
your unsought affections,
the passing poet, taking nothing,
     giving all.

(2001 -- Providence, RI)

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