Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved . . . ; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness.

— Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents


Vienna, 1938, Freud, eighty-two.
Nazis and their allies parade in the streets,
flag after flag and those raised arms,
ceaseless enthusiasm and hatred of the Jews. 
Incoherent fury of centuries alive once more. 
They called the old analyst’s work 
“a pornographic Jewish specialty.”

He’d worked fifty years in the exquisite old city,
struggling to free the human spirit.
Lately he’d become more pessimistic.
Neurosis was the price of civilization. 

The Nazis insisted he absolve the police 
before they allowed him to leave. 
“I can heartily recommend the Gestapo 
to anyone,” he wrote.
And the old Jewish pessimist,
leaving Vienna, remarked: “Today 
they are content with burning
my books. In the Middle Ages 
they would have burned me.”