Sunday, December 10, 2006

Poeming the Silence Reading

A Women’s Writing Group

MON. DECEMBER 18, 2006
6-8 PM
Free and open to the public

North East Branch
6801 35th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA 98115


Poeming the Silence is a continuing & revolving women’s writing group where words & story produce insight, learning & community. While we use poems to trigger writing – & to uncover silences & secrets within us – all written forms are encouraged -- diaries, fragments, stories, memoirs, dreams, recipes, lists, whatever we discover. We do no critiquing. Our primary goal is to create a safe & nurturing environment so we can write, speak & breathe ourselves into the world.

Esther Altshul Helfgott, facilitator

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Living with Alzheimer's

Living with Alzheimer's - The Almost Widow
Northwest Prime Time, November 2006

I have read in a number of places that a woman married to a man with Alzheimer's is living a widow's life. In the two and a half years since my husband's diagnosis, I have not felt a sense of widowhood, but last night at a social function I did feel I am living the life of an almost widow. Here at the table were a handful of couples, each, while engaged with everyone in the group as I was, were also happily engaged with each other.

I went to the function myself because I knew it would be too stressful and too late at night for my husband. We have in-home care now so I pushed myself to go. I had a wonderful time, actually, meeting new people and visiting with long-time associates, but I missed my husband and felt myself bringing up his name in conversation a little too often. It worked out fine, but now that I am able to get out of the house and explore myself in new territories, I need to figure out how I am going to handle myself as an almost widow.

It is not that I haven't been independent during our twenty-five years of marriage, traveling, working, socializing and maintaining my own friendship networks, but now the rules are different. Whereas pre-diagnosis, and even earlier (since he probably had the disease long before I or the doctors knew) I left the house independently with the knowledge that he knew what to do with his own time.

Now, in Stage five Alzheimer's, my husband's initiative is gone, as is his possibility for arranging or participating in a social life, or simply scheduling a few hours of errands. I arrange his day and another caregiver is with him when I am not. I help him with personal care, meals and all activities. His freedom is pretty much gone. Often, I feel that mine is too. Still, we manage, with pleasant moments weaving in and out of those that exhaust us both.

Mourning the Relationship

By the time I realized I had settled into the role of spousal caregiver, my role had changed to include the experience of mourning the relationship that, for better or worse, had been. Getting out as an almost widow, whether to a poetry reading, a concert or an art exhibit, was not going to be as easy as buying a ticket or calling some friends. I was taking the Alzheimer relationship with me, leaving at least three quarters of myself at home with my husband's silent gaze.
I have been attending support groups for Alzheimer's caregivers for awhile and have been participating in the on-line Alzheimer's community. Both are helpful, but in each a component has been missing for me: discussions of grief and a focus on mourning before an actual death. And with Alzheimer's death is a daily occurrence.

When my mother was dying from heart disease, I attended a grief group at Northwest hospital. It provided a helpful outlet for expressing the feelings that come with knowing your loved one (LO) is in the process of dying, unlike the Alzheimer groups I have attended where the focus is often on the LOs behaviors.

Not everyone needs support groups, but, for me, they work toward helping me analyze and understand the grief process. When I leave my home, grief is my escort. Music, writing and art may soothe but none of those media help me shake off the feelings of mourning and grief. I know this about myself. So I google Grief groups, Seattle hospitals, churches and synagogues and find the numbers I am looking for.

An almost widow is not a widow. The relationship that used to be has taken a different form, but wherever I go, my husband and his illness are with me.

- Esther Altshul Helfgott

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thanksgiving, Kids, B'day, Alzheimer's. etc.

I might as well start writing again; otherwise, I will be in mourning ad infinitum.

Thanksgiving was great. The kids pulled off an amazingly healing event, plus a SURPRISE 65th b'day party. I must say, getting that medicare card was a bit jolting. They had thirty on Thanksgiving and fifty Saturday. Another story about how they pulled it off.

We decided not to bring Abe home for either party since his up time is no more than two hours. It wasn't worth seeing him upset and agitated. The kids and grandkids went to see him at various times during their visits. They brought pics and school work and he loved it. I didn't go with them because I was afraid I'd break up so took the week off and let the kids form their own notions about his condition and his living situation in Alterra.

Still haven't taken Emma to the park since the cold spell. She's getting stir crazy. Hope to get there today.

Yesterday, with a b'day U bks gift card from Lisa, I bought Annie Leibowitz' A Photographer's Life and hope to get to it tonight, though a poet friend's coming over and we may be yapping about poetry.

I especially love the photos of Susan Sontag. She is ill and knows it. How lucky to have those photographic recordings of the last years of her life. Her diary entries in the NY Times magazine a few months ago were wonderful. I hope David Rieff, her son, has the rest of her notebooks published. Reading them makes me feel closer to life.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

R.I.P. Jean Baker Miller

Jean Baker Miller, Noted Feminist, Psychoanalyst, Social Activist; 1927-2006
BROOKLINE, Mass., Aug. 3 (AScribe Newswire) -- Jean Baker Miller, MD, noted feminist, psychoanalyst, and social activist died at her Brookline, Massachusetts home July 29, 2006 after a 13-year struggle with emphysema and post-polio effects. Her 1976 groundbreaking book, "Toward a New Psychology of Women," traced the connection between women's mental health and sociopolitical forces. Dr. Miller maintained that women's desire to connect with others and their emotional accessibility were essential strengths, not weaknesses as they were traditionally regarded

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reading with Olivia at Elliott Bay Books

I'm reading from In Pieces with Olivia at Elliott Bay books Sat. Here's the info:

Please come!

Diaries & notebooks
letters, aphorisms, short prose pieces,

Saturday, June 17 at 4:30 p.m.
Elliott Bay Books
101 South Main Street
Seattle, WA. 98104

Seattle publisher and anthologist Olivia Dresher writes in fragments—and champions its place as a literary form, arguing persuasively for its presence in literature over the centuries. She and other contributors, including Stacy Carlson, Victor Munoz and Esther Altshul Helfgott will read from their work and talk about fragments and the new anthology, In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Writing (Impassio). Among those included in the book are Phyllis Koestenbaum, Carlos V. Reyes, Yannis Ritsos, William Pitt Root, and Kim Stafford. IN PIECES celebrates the diversity of contemporary fragmentary writing, and includes a sampling of fragments by 37 contributors in the form of diaries & notebooks, letters, aphorisms, short prose pieces, and vignettes.

"In Pieces suggests that the smallest scraps of writing can be the most powerful—and how could it be otherwise? In a movie, isn't it the tiniest glimmer in an actor's eye that makes the film? In a book, doesn't a single turn of phrase capture our imaginations forever?"
- Geof Huth.


I've re-done the Alzheimer Diaries website so you can catch up here

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Fragments from today's diary

Responses to the Alzheimer's Caregiver's on-line Community

1) Social Life and the Alzheimer's Caregiver - my discussion topic:

I’ve read in a number of places that a woman married to a man with Alzheimer's is living a widow's life. I've never felt a sense of widowhood, but last night at a social function I did feel I am living the life of an almost widow. Here at the table I was sitting at were a handful of couples, each while engaged with everyone in the group, as I was, was also happily engaged with each other.

I went to the function by myself because I knew it would be too stressful and too late at night for Abe. I have in-home care now so pushed myself to go. I had a wonderful time, actually, meeting new people and visiting with long-time associates, but I missed my husband and felt myself bringing up his name in conversation a little too often. It worked out fine, but I can see that now that I am able to get out of the house and explore myself in new territories, I will need to process how I am going to handle being an almost widow.

The term hurts in my stomach, my psyche, my whole body; but there it is, along with the accompanying fear and sense of aloneness in this new area of study in which I am, unfortunately, becoming an expert.

2) 9:30 pm
from my discussion topic. Response to S whose father was abusive:
My thinking now is that Alzheimer's is a death sentence - or call it a re-birth? - in terms of the death or exchange of one individual for another. With respect to your dad, a new person, or the positive self of the old, has emerged, so new rules apply. Not that it's easy to forget the person you grew up with.

my response to L who wants to hear other people's experiences on finding caregiving help:

3) Hi L
Finding the right caregiver was a nightmare for me so I know what you're going through. I finally found someone who just happened to need a live-in situation right away. He's wonderful but I only have him through the summer and have decided not to start panicking until July. But at least now i know what works for my husband--someone who is non-threatening and quiet and who does not hover over him. I had so many women in here who would boss him around or want to do things with him when he just wants to sit and read or listen to music, look at the tres or watch tv. Part of it has been figuring out what my LO wanted at a particular time. Finding someone who can move with twists and turns is essential and also someone who knows how to re-direct away from behaviors, such as wandering.

4) Hi K
No, you're not off the subject for a caregiver's discussion. As a sister Washingtonian, it's perfect. Here's another take on rain. When it's sunny out I feel guilty, as if it's my duty to take my body outside and get some vitamin D, but when it's gray and rainy I don't have to make excuses for reading or for writing at the computer (not that I do really). It's been pouring here in Seattle and I'm lovin' it. Which isn't to say you should. Just another take.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ha Tikvah

The first exercise in class today was to write 12 minutes on the first thing that comes to mind. We had discussed what was going on with us as part of our intros. I had been thinking of Abe's weepiness and my cousin's upcoming move to Israel. I wrote this:

Ha Tikvah
for Billy
Abe cries when he sees a picture
of my cousin Billy and his wife
Sharon on their way to making Aliyah.
He wants to go too,
not just because his father’s
buried in the military cemetery -
in Nahariya - next to his cousin
who died in the ‘48 war
but because Israel is the mythical homeland
he grew up with schlepping books
and blue and white tin cans
from one bus stop in the Bronx to another
boarding New York trolleys
with pushkas
the Jewish National Fund
distributed in his Tremont Avenue
Hebrew school.

He listens to the sound of coins dropping
like small metal matzo balls
in the pot on his mother’s old stove.
In his ears, a melody of hope,
Ha Tikvah, and of Israel
where his parents didn’t settle
where his aunt and uncle,
pioneer kibbutzniks, did settle
and where his grandparents
would have settled
if not for

He was too young for the war
but he fought in it anyway
alongside his brother
who won a Purple heart.

Abe carried those pushkas
as if they were the Ten Commandments.

Now he sits in a chair in our Seattle home
more real than Eretz Yisrael
and cries at Billy's departure.
Not because he's leaving
but because he is.

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stanley Kunitz, may his name be for a blessing


He might as well have been from the old neighborhood, except he wouldn't have hung out on Goldberg's corner or at Mannie's, a Racing Form in his vest pocket. I don't think there was one poet where I lived, except for my father before I was born.

I don't often cry when poets die but I did this time. He was part of me in some strange tribal sense. I knew him all the while I never laid my eyes on his real live self. I knew the wrinkles in his skin and the tears that softened his eyes.
I knew when his heart broke and when it healed again. He was the kindness that walked our city blocks, the mind that evaded our avenue, the poem we couldn't find, the light that eluded us. I'll miss you kind Sir and am grateful for finding you once I left home.

Todah rabbah, Stanley Kunitz, todah rabbah.

Nikki Giovanni

I didn't start reading poetry seriously until the women's movement introduced me to Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Toni Cade Bambara, Erica Jong, Nikki Giovanni and Diane Wakoski, among others. They brought me to the page in a way the prose of Jane Austin and Charlotte Bronte, say, never could. They gave me permission to take deep breaths in the middle of thoughts and passages so that I could understand better what I was feeling about the language I was trying to explore in relation to my mood or the secret I was trying to uncover.

Below are two poems by Giovanni that I will be using in my classes this week. Enjoy and write well/into yourself:

Nikki Giovanni

kidnap poem

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
nap you

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad
I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can't catch me
For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on
My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save
I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission
I mean...I...can fly
like a bird in the sky...

- Nikki Giovanni

gotta read em'

I guess it's time for me to read Ann Davidson's A Curious Kind of Widow: Loving a Man with Advanced Alzheimer's (though my LO's just in Stage 5) and Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. I've been putting them off. Just started Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Had put it off too. How often do you do that?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Messages with swear words will be edited and/or deleted.

Would you believe I was reprimanded by the Alzheimer's On-line community! As Rebecca Louden would say, "Snort!" LOL. I used the words "damn" and "pain in the ass." LOL. This is what David B wrote:

Hi Everyone,

It's so wonderful to see the level of support and education everyone is sharing in the Caregiver's Forum!
I know that dealing with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia can be highly stressful, but I wanted to remind everyone that swearing is not permitted in the Alzheimer's Association's Online Community. Messages with swear words will be edited and/or deleted.


David B.

What I really wish he would edit or delete is all the religious garbage on that site.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The next slide down?

I don't generally wonder about the next slide down but this week I've been forcing myself to and have actually considered looking around at just-in-case facilities. And, as well, who would take over if something happened to me. The Alzheimer poems come from a place inside that pushes me to deal with the practical, not my favorite pastime.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Freud's Birthday

Susan Austin, ‘Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 [, accessed 6 May 2006]

Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939), founder of psychoanalysis, was born on 6 May 1856 at Freiberg, Moravia, in the Austro-Hungarian empire (later Príbor, Czech republic), the first of the seven surviving children of Jacob Freud (1815–1896), wool trader, and his second wife, Amalie (1835–1931), daughter of Jacob Nathansohn and his wife, Sara. His parents were both Jewish and Freud himself went to London as a refugee in 1938.

Childhood and adolescence
The Freud family occupied one large room on the first floor of a house owned by a blacksmith. His father, at one point registered as a wool merchant, made what must have been a somewhat precarious living through trade of various kinds. His mother was an attractive and strong-minded woman and by all accounts her love for Sigmund, the first-born of her eight children, was boundless. There followed two more boys, one of whom died at six months, and five girls, whose arrival stirred up intense jealousy in Freud. Freud's position in the family was unusual in that he also had two grown-up half-brothers from his father's first marriage, one of whom had a young son, so that Freud was born an uncle. This nephew, John, was Freud's closest child companion and rival. Freud remarked, in The Interpretation of Dreams, that his characteristic warm friendships as well as his enmities with contemporaries went back to this early relationship (Freud, Interpretation, 483). The two half-brothers and the young boy emigrated to Manchester at the end of Freud's third year, stimulating in him early thoughts of moving to England himself, which he was eventually to do some eighty years later.

Meanwhile, in 1860, when Freud was four, in common with many other Jews of the Austro-Hungarian empire at that time the family moved to Vienna in the wake of a recent liberalization of policy which gave Jews equal political rights and abolished ghettos. Although the family were largely non-observing Jews, ready to assimilate into Viennese society, and all his life Freud was himself an atheist, Jewishness in its religious, cultural, and political aspects was a lifelong preoccupation of his and very much a part of his identity.

The family settled in Leopoldstadt, a mainly Jewish part of the city, where they lived in straitened conditions. Little is known of these first years in Vienna and Freud's early schooling. Although it is unclear quite how Jacob Freud earned a living once there, the family seems to have been able to make ends meet. Freud's education at the excellent local Gymnasium, which he entered in 1865, proceeded without interruption and he received a classical education. He was consistently head of the class. He and his schoolfriend Eduard Silberstein, who remained a lifelong friend, formed their own ‘Spanish Academy’ with an exclusive membership of two, which involved corresponding in self-taught Spanish through which they divulged to each other their thoughts, fantasies, and preoccupations and developed a sort of private mythology. Their correspondence continued from Freud's mid-teens to his mid-twenties, stopping about the time that he met his future wife.

Freud's early biography is of fundamental significance to the history of psychoanalysis, as, through his own rigorous self-analysis—which he was to conduct from the mid-1890s—he effectively made himself the subject of the first psychoanalytic case-history. Freud makes thinly disguised references to his personal experience throughout his psychoanalytical writings, most notably in Die Traumdeutung (1900), published in English as The Interpretation of Dreams. A less intimately personal account is his Selbstdarstellung (‘Autobiographical study’, 1925), which was commissioned as part of a series of self-portraits by men of science, and focuses on his professional development. In a postscript of 1935 he writes: ‘The story of my life and the history of psychoanalysis … are intimately interwoven … no personal experiences of mine are of any interest in comparison to my relations with that science’ (p. 71). In fact Freud's most personal experience was inevitably bound up with psychoanalysis, while it is true that outwardly his private life, typical of a bourgeois doctor, appears unremarkable.
Studies in medicine, neurology, and psychiatry
In spite of the family's financial situation Freud was left by his father to make his own choice of career. He began his medical studies at Vienna University in 1873, availing himself of the considerable degree of academic freedom afforded by the curriculum to explore a variety of areas. His interest gravitated towards scientific research at the outset. He chose to supplement his studies with research in the laboratories of faculty members, undertaking such research for Ernst Brücke, a congenial teacher of physiology and histology, and he remained at Brücke's laboratory for six years. Beginning with studies of nerve cell structure in the Petromyzon, a primitive species of fish, and progressing to human anatomy and a minute study of the medulla oblongata, he established a solid reputation as a specialist in brain anatomy and pathology. In addition to Brücke himself, who was for Freud something of a father figure, Brücke's laboratory brought the young Freud into contact with distinguished colleagues. It was at Brücke's that Freud made the acquaintance of Dr Josef Breuer, another father figure whose personal support and professional collaboration he later acknowledged as crucial to the foundation of psychoanalysis.

It was during this period that Freud made his first long-awaited journey to England in 1875 to visit his half-brothers in Manchester, and which he acknowledged, seven years later, in a letter to his fiancée, as a decisive influence. He had dreamed of England since boyhood and had acquired an insatiable appetite for English literature, especially Shakespeare and Dickens. The trip stimulated renewed yearnings to settle there himself. Jacob Freud had hoped this stay with cousins more successful in business than himself would stimulate in Freud some enthusiasm in that line, but Freud was nurturing fantasies of pursuing a scientific career in England, for all its ‘fog and rain, drunkenness and conservatism’ (Letters to … Silberstein, 127). As a result of the excursion and his encounter with the consistent empiricism in the English scientific writings of the likes of John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, Charles Lyell, and Charles Darwin, his own interests became more sharply focused. Correspondingly he declared himself increasingly wary of metaphysics and philosophy (ibid., 128).

Freud's studies were interrupted by military service in 1879–80, during which he translated four essays by John Stuart Mill for the German edition of the collected works. After receiving his medical qualification in 1881 he pursued his research at Brücke's laboratory, having been given a temporary post. In 1882 Freud suddenly left Brücke's laboratory and began to set himself up to pursue a clinical career, which afforded the eventual prospect of financial security by going into private practice. Significantly, the change of direction coincided with Freud's falling in love with Martha Bernays (b. 1861), his future wife, the daughter of an observing Jewish family well known in Hamburg. There followed a four-year engagement, during which he wrote his fiancée 900 letters while struggling to establish himself financially in keeping with conventional expectation.

In the meantime Freud somewhat belatedly began a three-year residency at the Viennese General Hospital, an internationally renowned teaching centre where the heads of department were almost invariably pre-eminent in their fields. Although Freud's career was full of promise during this period, the prospect of becoming materially secure remained remote and he was searching for new discoveries so as to make his name. One such project was concerned with the applications of cocaine, then new and relatively unknown. In 1884 Freud published an enthusiastic paper based on his experiments on himself and others. Unfortunately it was left to a contemporary, Koller, whose attention Freud had drawn to cocaine's anaesthetic qualities, to complete an investigation into such use in eye surgery and so to claim the considerable credit for the discovery.

In July 1885, a month after being appointed to the academic post of privat-docent, Freud left for Paris on a travelling scholarship to study at the Salpêtrière Hospital under the celebrated neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. In contrast to the Viennese psychiatric approach Freud had so far encountered, which was concerned with physical symptoms and family pathology with little attempt to identify causes, Charcot was developing bold concepts for understanding neurosis through observing patients, in particular hysterics, with a view to characterizing disorders and establishing their aetiology. The trip to Paris was of fundamental significance to Freud's intellectual and professional development. Having arrived there primarily preoccupied with his anatomical researches, by the time of his return to Vienna his interest had turned, through Charcot's influence, to psychopathology and the applications of hypnosis.

In the wake of his formative experience in Paris, Freud gave addresses to the Vienna Medical Society championing Charcot's views on hysteria and hypnosis. These presentations met with cool receptions, to Freud's great disappointment. There was widespread scepticism concerning hypnosis and it is quite possible that Freud's youthful idealization of his French master may have rankled with his senior colleagues, reinforcing Freud's consistently held view of himself as an outsider embattled with the medical establishment.
Marriage and early career
Soon after his return from Paris, Freud set himself up in private practice as a consultant in nervous diseases, of which hysteria was one of the most important. Referrals came in particular from his older friend and benefactor Breuer, with whom he was later to collaborate. After years of relative poverty, Freud had generated enough income to marry Martha Bernays on 13 September 1886 at Wandsbeck, just outside Hamburg. The couple settled down to a domestic regime typical of a Viennese doctor's family and Martha had six children, three boys and three girls, within eight years. The household also included Martha's unmarried sister, Minna, who was able to provide Freud with intellectual companionship through the initial years of relative isolation.

During the first years of married life in addition to his private practice Freud was director of neurology at the Institute for Children's Diseases, where he continued his work on brain neurology in addition to clinical duties with neurological patients, enabling him to support his young family while he pursued his greater interest in clinical psychopathology through his private practice of neurotic patients. Of the neurological papers he published as a result of the neurological post one in particular foreshadows his later work. ‘Zur Auffassung der Aphasien: eine kritische Studie’ (‘On aphasia’, 1891) reviewed the existing literature, criticizing its mechanical approach and reliance on brain mythology, which attributed mental functioning to particular parts of the brain, proposing instead a subtle relationship between anatomy and psychology.
The talking cure
Freud's treatment of patients by hypnosis continued for a decade after his visit to Paris, although he became increasingly aware of its limitations. A fundamental shift in his thinking evolved following his re-encounter with a case history which his older friend Breuer had related to him as early as 1882. Breuer had been treating an intelligent and lively minded young woman, known as Anna O., whose severely debilitating symptoms included paralysis, loss of speech, and a nervous cough. Taking his lead from the patient Breuer developed a cathartic method, which the patient herself called a ‘talking cure’. Freud managed to persuade Breuer to revive the method, by which the doctor–patient relationship had effectively been transformed from one of passivity on the part of the hypnotized patient receiving suggestions from the doctor aimed at ridding the patient of the symptom, to that of a patient actively talking in a self-induced trance to a doctor who received information while the patient simultaneously relieved herself of the symptom, which emerged as the product of some early trauma which had not been resolved.

Implicit in the cathartic method which Freud adopted to treat his own patients were several concepts which were to be at the heart of psychoanalytic thinking: namely, that patients were suffering from ‘reminiscences’—there was a causal link between hysterical symptoms and psychological trauma; that the traumatic experience had been rendered unconscious through repression, yet continued to make its presence felt; and that the unconscious experience could be made conscious, bringing relief to the patient.

An account of the case of Anna O. was eventually published by Freud and Breuer in Studien über Hysterie (‘Studies on hysteria’, 1895). Breuer had been consistently reticent about the Anna O. case, which contained elements which he found personally embarrassing, and it was left to the intrepid younger man to explore the implications of the new method which had presented itself as a viable alternative to hypnosis. It was not until 1896 that Freud used the term ‘psychoanalysis’.

Freud widened the scope of the treatment by taking an interest in anything a patient might have to say, rather than inviting an account of the symptoms. Freud named this process free association and its encouragement was the object of the enduring fundamental rule of psychoanalysis, whereby a patient is asked to say whatever comes to mind. With the advent of free association came the demise of the last vestige of the hypnotic method, as Freud now refrained from applying gentle pressure to the patient's head during treatment. The setting for psychoanalysis later recommended by Freud, where the patient reclines comfortably while the analyst sits out of sight, was designed to facilitate free association. The request to patients to associate freely threw into relief resistance, a term which Freud used interchangeably with defence at that time. Listening to patients' accounts Freud became convinced that the traumas which lay behind hysterical symptoms had their origins in infancy and he was struck by their sexual content.
Family, friends, and colleagues
Freud's last daughter, Anna Freud, was born in 1895, the year of the publication with Breuer of Studien über Hysterie. His father died in the following year. Although he found pleasure in fatherhood and in the family home created by Martha Freud, there was no real intellectual outlet for Freud as he struggled to develop a theoretical framework for psychoanalysis and subjected himself to the emotional strain of a lengthy self-analysis. Freud's friendship with Breuer had been faltering since the late 1880s and eventually broke down, largely because Breuer was unwilling to concur with Freud's firm conviction about the sexual aetiology of hysteria. It was Wilhelm Fliess, a talented but ultimately discredited Berlin general practitioner, who fulfilled Freud's need for a friend, confidant, and critic. Fliess was closer in age to Freud and unlike Breuer could not be shocked by Freud's more audacious speculations. The relationship quickly developed a great intensity and the two kept up an intimate correspondence for fifteen years from 1887 to 1902 which sheds light on the otherwise obscure evolution of Freud's thinking at that time and on his concurrent self-analysis. It was in a long letter to Fliess written in 1895 that Freud set out his portentous ‘Project for a scientific psychology’ with a view to integrating mental and physical phenomena within a single theoretical schema. Freud began work on the ‘Project’ in the late summer of 1895 in a rush of creativity following one of his ‘congresses’ with Fliess. His ambition was to set out a psychology firmly grounded in neurology and biology, which he referred to as his ‘Psychology for neurologists’. Freud likened the task to an exhausting but exhilarating mountain climb, during which more peaks to be conquered kept appearing. Exhilaration soon gave way to frustration and dejection however, and by November he wrote to Fliess that he could ‘no longer understand the mental state in which I hatched the Psychology’ (Freud, ‘Project for a scientific psychology’, 1895, 152). The undeniably abstruse draft survives only among Fliess's papers, and Freud makes no mention of this momentous effort in his autobiographical accounts. It was published posthumously in English in 1954, four years after publication in German, having been rescued from Fliess's papers by Marie Bonaparte following his death in 1931, and edited by James Strachey (Standard Edition, vol. 1). As Strachey points out in his editor's introduction Freud clearly regarded this ostensibly neurological work as a failure. Although it cannot be said to constitute the foundation of psychoanalytic theory as such, it contained the seeds of many ideas elaborated in his later psychological writings, for example drive theory, repression, and an economy of mind based on mental conflict.

Freud's friendship with Fliess was destined to collapse amid recriminations, with Fliess alleging that Freud had appropriated his ideas on inherent bisexuality without acknowledgement. Ten years later Freud's friendship with Jung was also to end acrimoniously, with Jung's questioning of the sexual origins of neurosis at the centre of the dispute. Long before the split with Jung, and in the period preceding his violent quarrel with Fliess in 1900, Freud reflected on the nature of his relationships to contemporaries, which he linked to his intensely ambivalent attachment to his nephew John, who had moved to England when Freud was three.
My emotional life has always insisted that I should have an intimate friend and a hated enemy. I have always been able to provide myself afresh with both, and it has not infrequently happened that the ideal situation of childhood has been so completely reproduced that friend and enemy have come together in a single individual—though not, of course, both at once or with constant oscillations, as may have been the case in my early childhood. (Freud, Interpretation, 483)
Fortunately for Freud this easily discernible pattern of turbulent relationships prone to eventual breakdown was restricted to close male colleagues. His family relationships and other friendships were contrastingly consistent and loyal. It was no coincidence that the professional disagreements which caused these intimate friendships to break down were concerned with Freud's insistence on the centrality of sexuality. Sexuality represented to Freud the direct and essential instinctual link between psychology and biology, without which he would find himself caught up in the dichotomy of mind and body which he was desperate to avoid.
Establishment of psychoanalysis
Later in his career Freud recalled the 1890s as years in an intellectual wilderness. His papers on hysteria had not won the respect of the medical establishment and he was aware of his Jewishness in that largely Catholic milieu. In addition Freud had confessed his own surprise that ‘the case histories I write should read like short stories and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science’ (Standard Edition, 2.160).

Until the late 1890s Freud's observations of the infantile and sexual origins of hysteria had led him to believe, through listening to his patients' accounts, that his patients had fallen ill as a result of childhood sexual abuse by adults. In 1897 he modified this theory of actual childhood seduction and proposed instead that these accounts were often derived from infantile sexual fantasies and therefore belonged in the realm of the patient's own psychic reality and were not, as he had previously thought, necessarily objective facts. To Freud children were no longer assumed to be innocents in a world of adult sexuality: they possessed sexual feelings and wishes of their own which were liable to repression, elaboration, and distortion during development. This shift in Freud's thinking has proved enduringly controversial. Critics have argued that patients' experiences have been denied through their reassignment by Freud to subjective reality and that he changed tack in this way only because he shied away from alienating bourgeois Vienna by reporting widespread sexual abuse in its families. In fact, Freud never denied the reality of child sexual abuse, and it was his attribution of sexual feelings to children which most shocked his contemporaries. Freud was not to be deterred from his line of enquiry. Indeed the cynicism of his medical contemporaries and outrage from members of the wider public seem to have acted as a spur to new vistas opening up. In addition to setting the scene for the detailed exposition of human development, for example in the later Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie (‘Three essays on the theory of sexuality’, 1905), the recasting of the aetiology of hysteria in the light of childhood sexuality paved the way to a more general understanding of the role of impulse and desire in the human mind, rendered unconscious through repression.

With the publication of Die Traumdeutung in 1900 Freud decisively challenged the accepted limits of scientific psychology, by bringing mental phenomena generally considered beyond the pale, such as dreams, imagination, and fantasy, into the fold. The leitmotif which runs throughout the book is that dreams represent the disguised fulfilment of repressed infantile wishes and that as such ‘the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind’ (Freud, Interpretation, 608).

Freud stated at the outset that his theory of dreams was generally applicable and not restricted to neurotic patients. Indeed, his curiosity about the nature of dreams had been aroused during his self-analysis and the bulk of the illustrative material was trawled from his own dreams and autobiographical material, along with dreams of friends and children. It was in The Interpretation of Dreams that Freud, drawing characteristically on his classical schooling, introduced the Oedipus complex, which asserts the universal desire of a child for the parent of the opposite sex and consequent hatred of the parent of the same sex, which must be resolved through repression in order for normal development to proceed. Although sales were slow and a second edition was not needed until 1909, Freud's explorations of normal psychological functioning did stimulate interest in a wider public.

At the time of writing his dream book Freud was planning other studies of normal psychological processes which would none the less plumb the depths of the psyche, namely Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens (‘The psychopathology of everyday life’, 1901), which explored the unconscious meaning of everyday slips of the tongue and bungled actions, and Der Witz und seine Beziehung zum Unbewussten (‘Jokes and their relation to the unconscious’, 1905) for which he drew on his repertoire of ‘profound Jewish stories’.

The early years of the century also saw the publication of the first of five substantial case histories which read rather like novellas, the case of Dora, under the title Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905 [1901]). The most important insight from the analysis of Dora, which broke down when the young woman left, came to Freud with hindsight. In a postscript, Freud reviews the analysis in the light of transference. The phenomenon of transference, whereby any individual's experience of early relationships is the blueprint for later relationships, had already been discussed in the Studies on Hysteria (1895) in terms of an unconscious false connection on the part of the patient between the physician and some earlier figure. Now, reflecting on Dora's inability to continue with her analysis, Freud became aware of the implications of the understanding of transference as a key factor in the therapeutic process of psychoanalysis: ‘Transference, which seems ordained to be the greatest obstacle to psychoanalysis, becomes its most powerful ally, if its presence can be detected each time and explained to the patient’ (Standard Edition, 7.117).

During this period Freud's home life remained settled. As his financial situation improved he was able to indulge his two great interests: Mediterranean travel and collecting antiquities, another natural consequence of a youth steeped in the classics. He also found time to follow the exciting archaeological discoveries being made at the time, and often cited archaeological excavation as a metaphor for psychoanalytic work, with its interest in painstakingly uncovering hidden layers and origins. In 1907 Freud made the first trip to England since his inspirational visit aged nineteen. He spent a fortnight visiting Manchester relatives who showed him Blackpool and Southport before he departed for London. He returned full of praise for the architecture and people, having seen the Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum. It was not until the hasty move to London in 1938 that Freud once again found himself in his childhood dreamland.

Freud's interests beyond the consulting room and the application of psychoanalytic theory to new areas became increasingly apparent in his writings in the years preceding the First World War. Greek literature had already yielded the Oedipus story and there followed other forays into literature and art history, with Der Wahn und die Träume in W. Jensen's ‘Gradiva’ (‘Delusions and dreams in Jensen's “Gradiva”’, 1907) and Eine Kindheitserinnerung des Leonardo da Vinci (‘Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood’, 1910). In Totem und Tabu (‘Totem and taboo’, 1913), Freud applied psychoanalysis to anthropological material for the first time.
The psychoanalytic movement
As a privat-docent and from 1902 a professor extraordinarius Freud was entitled to lecture at Vienna University. These lectures attracted a small group of followers composed of both laymen and doctors. From 1902 onwards they met as the Wednesday Psychological Society, which evolved into the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society in 1908. In the meantime, to his great satisfaction, Freud's reputation began to spread beyond Vienna and he began to attract interest from foreigners, among them the well-known psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler and his young assistant Carl Jung. Others included Karl Abraham and Max Eitington, also from the Burghölzli Clinic in Switzerland, who unlike Jung were to remain loyal disciples, the Hungarian Sándor Ferenczi, and the Welshman (Alfred) Ernest Jones, Freud's future biographer and the founder of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.

The year after the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society was founded Freud made his only trip to the United States to give a series of well-received lectures (Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, in Standard Edition, vol. 11) at the invitation of Clark University, Massachusetts, accompanied by Jung, Ferenczi, and Jones. The spread of psychoanalysis gained momentum and new societies were formed on the model of the Viennese. An international association was established in 1908, uniting the various groups and promising a structure which Freud hoped would facilitate the perpetuation of psychoanalysis through training. Inevitably psychoanalytic politics were in the air and Freud found himself at the centre of rivalries, jealousies, and dissenting views between individuals and groupings, notably his original Viennese colleagues and the Zürich analysts, whom he was felt to favour. Disagreements led to defection by some members, most significantly by Alfred Adler and Jung, whom Freud had thought of as his successor. In an attempt to protect the essence of psychoanalysis from distortion a ‘secret committee’ was formed, at the suggestion of Ernest Jones, which was intended to provide a secure setting within which theory and technique could be discussed among an inner circle of loyal colleagues which consisted of Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi, Karl Abraham, Hanns Sachs, Otto Rank, and, later, Max Eitington. Although the committee met into the 1920s, its conspiratorial air set an unfortunate tone for the future functioning and reputation of the profession.
Further developments
Inevitably the First World War interrupted Freud's well-established working routine. His three sons, Martin, Ernst (father of the writer and broadcaster Clement Freud and the painter Lucian Freud), and Oliver were all in active service and the real possibility of losses within the family had to be faced. Patients stopped coming, and the international psychoanalytical movement's activities came to a halt. Freud was left more time for private study, which proved very productive. There were papers which resulted from reflections on the war itself, for example ‘Zeitgemässes über Krieg und Tod’ (‘Thought for the times on war and death’). The Vienna University lectures delivered during the war were published as the Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse (‘Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis’, 1916–17); of particular significance were his Papers on Metapsychology (Standard Edition, vol. 14), of which only five of an original twelve have survived. Dealing with five fundamental themes of psychoanalysis they are ‘On narcissism’, ‘Instincts and their vicissitudes’, ‘Repression’ (all 1915), ‘The unconscious’, and ‘Mourning and melancholia’ (both 1917). Freud went far beyond summing up his theories as they stood in these highly technical papers. In addition to containing new ideas they also hint at numerous revisions which would preoccupy him during the last phase of his career.

By the end of the First World War, Vienna—no longer at the centre of an empire—had become merely the capital of a small, impoverished country. After resuming his private practice Freud took on several British and American patients who proved a useful source of hard currency as a safeguard against soaring inflation. The most serious British interest in Freud came from the members of the Bloomsbury group, in keeping with their characteristic receptiveness to progressive European ideas. Frances Partridge, who lodged with the Stracheys in Gordon Square during their early years as practising analysts, recalled how psychoanalysis was very much part of the Bloomsbury scene, and that she would often recognize patients as they arrived at the house for their sessions. Among the British were the Bloomsbury couple, James Strachey and Alix Strachey [see under Strachey, James]. Introductions, through Ernest Jones, were eased by the fact that Freud admired the work of James's older brother, Lytton Strachey. Freud took James Strachey into analysis on condition that he begin translating his writings into English. Translating Freud, culminating with the publication of the complete works in twenty-four volumes by Virginia and Leonard Woolf's Hogarth Press, was to occupy Strachey for the rest of his life, and remains the standard text for the extensive scholarship on Freud in English, and for psychoanalysts without German. The Strachey translation has been criticized for its recourse to dry scientific neologisms where Freud made use of plain German. For example, Strachey's term ‘cathexis’, now well established as a psychoanalytic term, takes the place of Freud's ‘Besetzung’, a common German word with rich nuances of meaning.

The first international congress following the war was held at The Hague in 1920, which Freud attended in the company of his youngest daughter, Anna, the only one of his children to take an active interest in psychoanalysis, who was now training as an analyst herself and in analysis with her own father. Freud's three sons had survived the war, and the two elder girls, Mathilde and Sophie, were by now married. Disaster struck, though, in 1920, when Sophie, Freud's ‘Sunday Child’, died suddenly leaving a husband and two small boys. Three years later one of Sophie's children died of tuberculosis in the family's care in Vienna, aged four. Freud took the loss very hard—perhaps, as he reflected in a letter to his writer friend Romain Rolland, because it came soon after the shock of discovering that he was suffering from cancer of the jaw, from which he died some sixteen years later. The cancer, brought about by years of heavy cigar smoking, necessitated thirty-three operations and constant nursing attention from his daughter Anna in an attempt to contain it, and the fitting of an awkward oral prosthesis. Freud was not deterred from smoking cigars, however, and indeed remained convinced of their therapeutic qualities: ‘I believe I owe to the cigar a great intensification of my capacity to work and a facilitation of my self control’ (Ward, 14). The great majority of photographs of Freud show him holding a cigar. Always the perfect bourgeois, impeccably groomed throughout his life, his once well-filled features lost their softness in later years, probably as much from the illness as ageing. This has no doubt contributed to the popular image of Freud as a stern and distant figure. Less formal photographs and home movies taken on family occasions and holidays, however, convey a more relaxed and accessible family man, although his smile was rarely captured on camera.
During the 1920s Freud expanded his metapsychological theories. Two key strands can be identified in his thinking from this period onwards: a systematic study of the ego and a preoccupation with cultural and social issues in response to the crisis of humanity during the recent war. At its more speculative, psychoanalytic theory now resembled the philosophical enquiry Freud had eschewed early in his career in favour of scientific methods.

In Jenseits des Lustprinzips (‘Beyond the pleasure principle’, 1920), Freud revised his theory of the instincts by positing a death instinct. Psychic conflict could now be construed in terms of the opposing forces of love and death, as could human behaviour and interaction at large. Broadly speaking the emphasis in his thinking had shifted from the unconscious itself to the phenomenon of resistance, which he understood to exert constant pressure to keep unacceptable desires from surfacing. Freud's interest turned to the ego, the agent of this defensive activity, and to the classification of the defences at the ego's disposal. It no longer made sense to think purely in terms of conscious and unconscious, because in any case the mechanisms of defence employed by the ego were themselves unconscious. This new phase of work on the ego was initiated in Massenpsychologie und Ich-analyse (‘Group psychology and the analysis of the ego’, 1921). Freud then set out an extensively revised tripartite model of the structure and functions of the mind, in Das Ich und das Es (‘The ego and the id’, 1923). The third agency, which he termed the super-ego, was conceived to take into account the crucial internalization of parental authority and prohibition which came about with the dissolution of the Oedipus complex.

Once again new avenues had opened up to Freud as the result of an innovation, for example the possibility of classifying mental illness in terms of its origins in a conflict between parts of the personality. In a brief paper entitled ‘Neurosis and psychosis’ (1923), Freud offered new clarity with the following formulation: ‘Transference neuroses correspond to a conflict between the ego and the id; narcissistic neuroses, to a conflict between the ego and the superego; and psychoses, to a conflict between the ego and the external world’ (Standard Edition, 19.152). Other rewards reaped by Freud from the new structural theory were the linking of particular defences to specific mental illnesses and new insights into the nature of anxiety (Hemmung, Symptom und Angst (‘Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety’), 1926).
Late years
Freud continued working in great pain after an initial operation for the cancer in 1923. The international psychoanalytic movement had re-established itself, with important centres elsewhere, for example in Berlin, which was presided over by Freud's disciple, Abraham. Ernest Jones had founded the London Psycho-Analytical Society in 1913, which became the British Psycho-Analytical Society in 1919. The London Institute of Psycho-Analysis was formally founded by Jones in late 1924. An international structure for training was now in place, with a training analysis as its cornerstone, conducted by Freud and a growing number of senior analysts. Among the patients to consult Freud in the mid-1920s was Princess Marie Bonaparte, wife of Prince George of Greece, a woman endowed with a lively intelligence, tremendous energy, and great material wealth. She soon began training as an analyst and went on to become a leading figure in the international movement, a patron of psychoanalysis, and a close friend of the Freud family, who secured their safe passage from Vienna in 1938.

Another woman important to Freud was his youngest child, Anna, who was by now making her name as an analyst and who increasingly acted internationally as her father's ambassador as his illness rendered him more immobile. She represented her father at the 1929 International Congress in Oxford, in difficult circumstances following a dispute with the New York analysts about whether non-medical individuals should be allowed to become analysts. Freud was exasperated, and his deep-seated antagonism to all things American was fuelled. Freud stood firm: he had already tackled this problem in 1926 in response to allegations of quackery made to a lay colleague, arguing that psychoanalysis was more than a mere offshoot of medicine and that its practice should therefore not be restricted in this way (Die Frage der Laienanalyse; ‘The question of lay analysis’, 1926; in Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 20).

From the publication of Die Zukunft einer Illusion (‘The future of an illusion’, 1927), which dissected religious belief, Freud's other great bête noire, the majority of Freud's writing dealt with cultural and wider social issues. In 1930 came Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (‘Civilisation and its discontents’), in which he subjected civilization itself to scrutiny, asking, in the light of his experience with neurotics in clinical practice, whether instincts were unduly repressed by society. For Freud these works represented a return to his intellectual beginnings: ‘My interest, after making a lifelong détour through the natural sciences, medicine and psychotherapy, returned to cultural problems which had fascinated me long before when I was a youth scarcely old enough for thinking’ (Standard Edition, 20.72).

In the coming years Freud's consistent refusal to adopt an irrationally optimistic outlook on humanity was justified by the rise to power of Hitler in 1933. Freud's works were among thousands of books ritually burnt in Berlin that year. Freud's terse entry for 12 March 1938 in his Brief Chronicle, a diary of events he kept for the final decade of his life, reads: ‘Finis Austriae’ (Gay, 229). Despite Chancellor von Schuschnigg's attempt to stave off Hitler through much of the 1930s Austria had been absorbed into the German Reich which in any case was congenial to popular Austrian opinion. Freud, in his eighties and too unwell even to make trips to a summer house in the Vienna suburbs, was now trapped and in fact remained adamant about not leaving. It was only when Anna Freud was briefly arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated that he agreed that the time had come for the family to flee. In a flurry of crisis diplomacy Freud's well-connected friends, Princess Marie Bonaparte, Ernest Jones, and William Bullitt, the American ambassador to Paris, began diplomatic negotiations on his behalf. Three months later bureaucratic obstacles were finally overcome and Freud was able to leave Vienna in the company of Martha, Anna, the housekeeper, a young physician, and his pet chow. Thanks to the princess an extortionate tax raised by the Nazis on Jews' possessions leaving the country could be paid, and all the apartment's contents followed on, including Freud's library and collection of antiquities, which now numbered more than two thousand objects.
Freud in England
Freud arrived in London by train on 6 June 1938. His reputation had preceded him to the extent that the train had to be re-routed to another platform at Victoria, so as to avoid the enthusiastic attentions of the press. Freud was greatly heartened by the cordial welcome he received, although he wrote to friends of his sense of alienation resulting from the move and his concern over the worsening state of affairs in Europe. He was particularly anxious about four of his elderly sisters who remained in Vienna, for whom visas were being sought without success. Freud did not live long enough to know that they all perished in the camps.

Although Freud was separated from his sisters the move to London occasioned family reunions. He was now living in the same neighbourhood as his youngest son, Ernst, already well-established in London as an architect, having left Berlin in the early thirties. Sam Freud, his Manchester nephew, was among the first visitors. Before moving to 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead (later the Freud Museum), the family lived temporarily nearby at 39 Elsworthy Road, backing on to the north side of Primrose Hill. In addition to being deluged with letters from friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers simply wishing to express their support, Freud received a stream of visitors at both addresses, regulated by his wife and daughter, Anna, with his declining health in mind. Although England had brought him respite from external persecution, the cancer was unrelenting and no longer operable by early 1939. Freud was gradually forced to withdraw from his work routine, although he continued to see a small number of patients, and to write.

Many visitors were listed by Freud in a small notebook, others in his Brief Chronicle. They reflect all aspects of his personal and professional life and interests as well as his preoccupations of that time, and testify to the wide variety of individuals prominent in their own fields whose work had felt the impact of psychoanalysis. In addition to visits from psychoanalysts who had been colleagues and loyal friends in Vienna, numerous members of the British Psycho-Analytical Society came, among them Melanie Klein, whose views on child analysis were at odds with the work of Anna Freud. (Melanie Klein had arrived in Britain in 1927 and had received enthusiastic support from James and Alix Strachey in particular.) A visit which gave particular pleasure was that of the president and two officials of the Royal Society, which had honoured him with membership by correspondence in 1936. Breaking with tradition the charter book was brought to Freud for signing, a privilege previously reserved for the king.

Several visitors outside the immediate psychoanalytic circles were writers, for example Stefan Zweig, who brought along Salvador Dalí, who sketched his hero, and H. G. Wells, one of the few British writers Freud had met personally in Vienna. Wells had proposed having immediate British citizenship conferred on Freud by act of parliament. Freud was interested in the idea and wrote to Wells in July 1939, with only three months to live:
You cannot have known that since I first came over to England as a boy of eighteen years, it became an intense wish phantasy of mine to settle in this country and become an Englishman. Two of my half brothers had done so fifteen years before. But an infantile fantasy needs a bit of examination before it can be admitted to reality. (Letters of Sigmund Freud, 459)
Given their shared interest in cultural matters it is likely that they would also have discussed Freud's Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion (‘Moses and monotheism’, 1939), Freud's phylogenetic attempt to link the phenomenon of antisemitism to ancient inconsistencies around the identity of Moses, which was begun in 1934 soon after the rise of Hitler, and completed in London in 1938. The forthcoming publication brought Freud a number of visitors, including several from Jews urging him not to publish a work they felt would undermine the faith in their hour of need, but Freud was undeterred and pressed on with publication.

There were meetings at Maresfield Gardens with several publishers, including Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Leonard Woolf commented in his autobiography that it was
not an easy interview. He was extraordinarily courteous in a formal, old-fashioned way—for instance, almost ceremoniously he presented Virginia with a flower. There was something about him as of a half-extinct volcano, something sombre, repressed, reserved. He gave me the feeling … of great gentleness, but behind that, great strength. (Gay, 640)
A final paper was in hand during Freud's time in London: ‘Abriss der Psychoanalyse’ (‘An outline of psychoanalysis’, c.1940), an ambitious overview of his work, which he did not complete. Clinical work also continued in London for four hours a day, until Freud finally closed his practice seven weeks before the end of his life and some fifty-seven years since setting up in private practice.

Freud held Max Schur, his personal physician of many years, to a promise he had managed to extract years previously, that he should not let him go on living when there was no longer any point. Schur duly administered a lethal injection of morphine on 23 September 1939 in Freud's study at 20 Maresfield Gardens. Freud was cremated three days later with a fittingly simple memorial service at which Ernest Jones and Stefan Zweig gave addresses, at Golders Green crematorium, Middlesex. His remains are there, inside one of a favourite pair of Greek urns from his collection.
The Freudian legacy
In an obituary poem for Freud, W. H. Auden wrote: ‘Freud is no more a person now but a whole climate of opinion’ (Auden, 153). It is easy to identify Freud's language and ideas in everyday talk: human feelings and behaviour might be deemed repressed, narcissistic, or denied, whether or not an individual has read any Freud or even has any regard for his theories. Furthermore there is chronic confusion, usually unacknowledged, over what really comes from Freud. Given that people seldom react with bland indifference to his name, presumably because they feel in some way implicated by the findings of psychoanalysis, it is hardly surprising that Freud is more often than not misrepresented and misunderstood. It cannot be said that the British have responded to Freud with the same enthusiasm, regard, and affection which Freud maintained for Britain throughout his life. Psychoanalysis has never captured the imagination of the British to the extent that it did the North Americans in the post-war years, or the South Americans much later: the highest percentage of a population receiving psychoanalysis is in Argentina. British psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy remain largely based in London, and north London at that, although the British Psycho-Analytical Society has consistently retained its position as an innovative and influential body within the international psychoanalytic community. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis continues to be published in London.

Freud's impact also continues to be felt in the academic and cultural spheres, with a proliferation of postgraduate non-clinical courses in psychoanalytic studies and the widespread but often superficial application of aspects of psychoanalytic theory to academic fields such as literary and film criticism, gender studies, and politics. The death knell is regularly sounded for psychoanalysis. A frequent criticism of Freud is that he was a man of his time and psychoanalysis is therefore no longer relevant. His views on women are often cited in this connection. Indeed there are aspects of his thinking which few psychoanalysts would espouse nowadays, for example some of his ideas on female sexuality. Theoretical innovations have taken the place of those which have not stood the test of time. There has also been a deepened understanding of aspects of human experience which Freud did not fully explore—for example the complexity of the very early mother–infant relationship and its fundamental part in personality development. Yet while psychoanalysis has continued to evolve, the basic principles elaborated by Freud, such as the concept of mind going beyond mere conscious experience, the highly dynamic nature of mental processes, and the possibility of finding psychological meaning underlying apparently meaningless symptoms or states of mind, have held good, and indeed have underpinned subsequent developments.

Susan Austin
The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, ed. J. Strachey, A. Freud, and others, 24 vols. (1953–74) · Letters of Sigmund Freud, ed. E. L. Freud (1975) · E. Jones, Sigmund Freud: life and work, 3 vols. (1953–7) · R. Wollheim, Freud (1991) · P. Gay, Freud: a life for our time (1988) [incl. bibliographical essay] · H. J. Ellenberger, The discovery of the unconscious: history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry (1970) · P. Gay, A Freud reader (1989) · The diary of Sigmund Freud, 1929–39: a record of the final decade, ed. and trans. M. Molnar (1992) [known as the Brief chronicle] · I. Ward, Freud in England (1992) · The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887–1904, ed. J. Masson (1985) · The letters of Sigmund Freud to Eduard Silberstein, 1871–1881, ed. W. Boehlich (1990) · H. Lange, Freud family tree, Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, London [unpublished document, unpaginated] · W. H. Auden, ‘Sigmund Freud’, Horizon (1940), 151–4 · S. Freud, Die Traumdeutung (Vienna, 1900)

Freud Museum, London, family and personal corresp. and papers · L. Cong. · Sigmund Freud Gesellschaft, Vienna | JRL, corresp., mostly with his nephew, Sam Freud

BFI NFTVA, documentary footage · Freud Museum, London, home footage

BL NSA, recorded talk; performance recording

photographs, 1860–1939, Freud Museum, London · M. Pollock, drypoint etching, 1914, Freud Museum, London · M. Halberstadt, photograph, 1921, Mary Evans Picture Library [see illus.] · F. Schmutzer, chalk and mixed media, 1926, Freud Museum, London · L. Willinger, photograph, 1930–39, Wellcome L. · S. Dalí, pen-and-ink drawing on blotting paper, 1938, Freud Museum, London · O. Nemon, bronze statue, c.1970, corner of Fitzjohn's Avenue and Belsize Lane, London; maquette at Freud Museum, London

Wealth at death
£22,850 3s. 2d.: probate, 1 Dec 1939, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

© Oxford University Press 2004–6
All rights reserved: see legal notice

Susan Austin, ‘Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 [, accessed 6 May 2006]

Sigmund Freud: doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55514

[Previous version of this biography available here: September 2004]

Friday, May 05, 2006

(A kind of) Villanelle for Dr. Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915)

Dear Dr. Alzheimer:
Thank you for discovering this disease,
especially for lending it your name.

What a mitzvah!
So many people honor you.
Aren’t you pleased with your celebrity, Dr. Alzheimer?

Such fame!
There you were a German neuropathologist, a psychiatrist
already with a name.

And as a professor of psychology, with Franz Nissl,
you wrote a treatise on the pathologic anatomy of mental illness.
I salute you both, Dr. Alzheimer.

My husband Abe was brilliant too, a pathologist,
born on your birthday, June 14th. Now he has your disease.
I wonder if he’ll forget his name.

Alois Alzheimer, you’ve become part of our family
and will not leave. Listen, your welcome is worn out,
Dr. Alzheimer.

It’s time for you to move on
because we have to,
Dr. Alzheimer.
Please, won’t you please, take back your name.

*historical info from

Edward Field

I had the most wonderful time sitting on a bench outside my neighborhood library tonight. A caregiver moved in and I had two whole hours to read in the open air. Picked up the Edward Field book I had on hold. He's sooo good, the way he tells my grandmother's history as well as his own, albeit his started in New York and my grandmother's, my Bubbe Esther's, began in Europe and ended in Baltimore. Here's from his 1972 collection, A Full Heart:

Both My Grandmothers (first of 7 stanzas)

Both my Grandmothers came from far away
on the difficult journey alone with their children.
They had the courage to do that
but only enough strength
to get here, raise their kids, and die.
I myself have stood on the shore of the Caspian Sea
crying my eyes out
and knowing how far away far can be
and how far this America - strange and difficult even for me -
was from their homes,
from the life they yearned back to.
But they lived here uprooted the rest of their lives.

[my Bubbe Esther, for whom I am named, had seven children. So did my Bubbe Kayla, but some of hers were left in Russia].

and from Field's Being Jewish (5th of 7 stanzas)

Women were always tired in those days and no wonder,
with the broken-down bodies they had
and their guts collapsed,
for with every child they got a dragging down.
My mother finally had hers
tied back up in the hospital and at the same time
they tied those over-fertile tubes
which freed her from 'god's terrible curse on women.'

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Death Sentence?

I think I'm turning a corner, coming to terms with the sadness of Alzheimer's in a new way. I've said from the beginning that Abe and I are just living in a different kind of normal, but certainly there is a standard Normal just as there is a standard morality (well, that's getting into shady territory too. One person can not tell another what's right and wrong, except thou shalt not kill, I suppose). It’s not "normal" to forget all you’ve ever known - especially your professional knowledge base - or where you live or the directions to the bathroom inside your own home once you’ve found it or who you are. And he knows who he is. Who I am. Who the people who come to see him are.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Alzheimer’s need not be a death sentence, that other parts of us are as valuable as the mind. They mean too. The personality, the spirit: the sweetness and goodness that still are. The sense of values. The belief or un-belief in god and the Democratic party. But today I realize and admit that Alzheimer's is a death sentence.

It is. It takes the mind, steals it from the self. I generally make the best of life's exigencies and that is good; but in another sense I am guilty of denial, saying everything is ok when it’s not, that I can handle this – and I can even when I can’t, but to expect myself to go on with the ordinariness of life is pushing it.

I guess this is why doctors and social workers screamed nursing home, nursing home, assisted living facility assisted living facility. Fear of caregiver burnout. And that’s true, more than just possible; it’s true.

Still, I want something in between: more people on board, more folks not to give up on him, on us. I actually find it harder to deal with people we run into who say, “Oh, I must call you. We’ll do lunch,” then run away than I do confronting this disease. Isn’t that funny.

I never dreamed I would be so disappointed in people; and actually now that I'm writing once again I know that Alzheimer's is really only a death sentence when other people make it so.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I went for a walk in the neighborhood last night and paid witness to the tulips and periwinkles. He was sitting in his chair watching television when I left. Our new live-in helper was with him. They had just turned on 60 minutes when I walked out the door. This was the first time in I-don't-know-how-long that I was able to go for a fast-paced walk by myself after dinner, and at first I thought the world had changed. But when I came home an hour later and saw him sitting in that same spot, with the same affect, I felt the old familiar sadness return, the same sadness I felt a few hours earlier when I was taking his blood pressure and realized that he no longer understood the meaning of the numbers I was reading. When I got him to bed I thought I would work at my writing but my mind will not go there. It is in bed with him wondering what language Alzheimer victims dream in.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
But be

-- Archibald MacLeish

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pesach Poem, 5766 (2006)

Erev Pesach, 14 Nisan

I am from a place of long ago
where women held timbrels
and danced by the sea.
My name is not Miriam
and Moses was not my brother
but I carry their hearts within me
and hold their hands
as I sing.

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

Monday, April 10, 2006

Early Morning Fragment

I awaken this morning feeling fat and lax.
I don’t know how long we can go on this way,
how long I can. Holding on is the ripple,
the small sound, the slip of a turn or move-
ment, the hope in the night.
But ripples dissipate. They fade.
And what remains is chore,
the same as yesterday:
getting him up
for breakfast news-
paper, forget the change of clothes
the shower, just get him fed ...

This is an early morning fragment.
I’ll finish later when a ripple

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Alzheimer Couple

They have grown
into each other
like two plants
in a small pot.
Arms and legs
the same
they wait
for some
to water

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

Written in response to Gwendolyn Brooks' The Bean Eaters which I used as a trigger poem in class Friday.

The Bean Eaters

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sam Hamill, Copper Canyon Press

Seattle P.I.
March 31 '06

Dear Editor:

As a Seattle poet, I appreciated John Marshall’s article (March 30th) covering Copper Canyon Press’s history and development, but I take issue with his one-sided characterization of founder Sam Hamill as “a cantankerous, abrasive person, who often seems steeling for a fight and usually finds it.” I’ve never been a card carrying member of the Sam Hamill fan club (and it is a large one), but in terms of Copper Canyon’s success as an international poetry house, representing the likes of Mahmoud Darwish, Ruth Stone, Ted Kooser, Lucille Clifton, Octavio Paz and a host of others, Hamill’s “outsized personality,” as Marshall describes it, is quite beside the point. He built the press and deserves more credit than Marshall gives him.

Esther Altshul Helfgott

(Note: John Marshall of the P.I. is not the John Marshall of Open Books).

Friday, March 31, 2006

Anna's Last January

My copy of In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Writing edited by Olivia Dresher (Impassio Press) came today. I'm delighted to be between its pages with so many fine writers, including Kim and Bill Stafford and William Pitt Root. My piece, Anna's Last January, is a series of diary entries pertaining to my mother's death.

"In Pieces celebrates the diversity of contemporary fragmentary writing by offering a sampling of fragments written by 37 different writers—those who are known as well as new voices. Selections from diaries, notebooks, and letters; aphorisms; short prose pieces and vignettes... These are some of the fragmentary forms represented in this unique collection, the first of its kind to present a wide range of fragmentary writing as its own genre."
- from the back cover

“We learn in school that literature has a hierarchy: poem, play, novel, essay. All else—diary, journal, aphorism, letters—are secondary, jottings, ephemera. Reading tells us a different story. The engaging and memorable are found everywhere. In books like In Pieces we are ‘49ers panning for gold and finding nuggets.”
William Corbett, author of Philip Guston’s Late Work: A Memoir

I love being in an anthology, feels like a pot luck Thanksgiving, everybody sitting around playing music, telling stories, singing, just being themselves.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Importance of Diary Keeping

This NPR piece is an important example of discussing personal issues publicly. First, I read it and then I listened. Stewart and Rebecca's openness and desire to be heard and understood lifts me above my own care giving issues. That 48 year old Stewart kept a diary of his year of dying from a brain tumor is a gift, as is his wife Rebecca's response. Mary Beth Kirchner moderated. Her interaction with the material is gentle, her presentation soothing, hopeful. I love NPR. How could anyone want to get rid of it!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lisel Mueller's Love Like Salt

This is the poem we used in last week's Thurs and Fri classes, plus today's (Tues) class. I'll post a new one Thurs.

Love Like Salt

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

Lisel Mueller

Reprinted from "Alive Together: New and Selected Poems" (LSU Press, 1996) by permission of the author. Poem copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Alzheimer's Need Not Be A Death Sentence

I've decided not to believe in doctors

social workers either,
those who would squirrel him away
in an Alzheimer's wing. Wrap him in a cocoon,
a locked ward where resident captives
drown in respiridone and haldol.
Pace. Mumble to relatives of sixty years ago.

An old woman makes bread for her dead children.
She opens an oven door,
pushes them in.
A man who used to be removes his clothes.
A sock here, a shirt there
and then comes his underpants.
In the hall, a low hum, the Devil's breath,
you wouldn't believe.

I sobbed the two hours we were there
and then I brought him home.
That was last October.
Now it's Spring. We plant our primroses.
Read each other poems: Jorie Graham, Bill Stafford.
Even me. We brush the dog, eat out.
Neighbors wave. At shul,
he schmoozes and prays.
A grandchild climbs
in his lap.

-Esther Altshul Helfgott

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Next Step

John Fox led two three-hour workshops at Cancer Lifeline this week. He's absolutely terrific. If you get a chance to go to the one he's giving with Merna Hecht and Andy Himes tomorrow night, grab it. Titled Poems of Witness: Living with Heart in a Conflicted World, the interactive workshop will be at the University Friends Center from 7-9 pm. That's Wed night, the 15th.

One of the exercises we did today: "Commit your next step to what you love most dearly." After discussion, a free write. Here's mine:

The next step

is continuing on
with what has been --
holding you in the night,
watching your days
not surround your breath
with medical

The next step
is more of the same --
figuring out ways
to bypass
the lack of hope
that permeates
a field of vision
that doesn’t

John put together a useful booklet for us filled with Mary TallMountain, Rumi, Mary Oliver (Is there anyone who doesn't use Mary Oliver these days?, Mark Doty, Milosz, Hirsch, Walcott, Stafford and others. He also showed a marvelous and important film, Medicine and Poetry, one he helped develop with John Graham-Pole, a pediatric oncologyst from Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. Thanks John!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Being interviewed

When I was asked to do this interview, I didn't feel like it, felt like an invasion of my time, and I don't quite understand interviews where you write the answers yourself. I'm still accustomed to the old fashioned kind where they question you over the phone and then when they go to record, get a good bit of it wrong. So I can't complain; if anyone screwed up here, it was me. I mean I.
An interview with Esther Altshul Helfgott:

Q: You said your husband has Alzheimer’s and that you are his caregiver. Did you begin writing after he contracted the disease?

A: No, I’ve been writing all my life, not just to survive a particularly traumatic time but in order to know what I am thinking and feeling, to know who I am. Writing has always been my way of figuring out how environment and familial context, say, work for me. When I’m stuck on a problem, I dialogue with myself; record my dreams, dialogue with others on the page, and record my interaction with other writers’ words on the page. I respond to my reading in my journal. I love that; it helps me know the author better and myself in relation to what I’m reading. I complain on the page, I complain a lot but nobody sees that part of me. Not that I don’t complain off the page, in real life, but not as much. I get my complaints and anger out in my journal/diary, whatever you want to call it.

In the case of my husband’s illness, my writing saves me, probably both of us, because it calms me down, centers me to do the hard stuff I have to do, whether I like it or not. You have to take care of someone you love and the tasks are not always easy or fun. So in order to do them, to get some release from the mean stuff that life divvies out, I write write write and write some more. It’s all I know to do. Perhaps if I could sing or dance I’d be doing that but writing is all that comes naturally to me, so that’s what I do. I really wanted to learn to play the piano and to tap dance but I don’t have the patience anymore than I have the patience to cook or sew. I have patience to write and read, that’s all, and more patience to write than to read.

My writing about my husband’s illness has taken the poem form, as it often does, because in poem I am able to write out my fears and sadness. The Alzheimer’s poems are very sad but as I told someone in one of the writing groups I’m in, if I couldn’t write my sadness out in poems, I probably wouldn’t be able to laugh when I’m not writing. I do my crying in the poems, then I can move on, do what I have to do.

Q: What type of writing do you do?

Read the rest of the interview here

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On Submitting Your Work

from Mickey Jim's blog

Advice for writers on submissions from Salmon Poetry

A d v i c e f o r W r i t e r s
O n S u b m i s s i o n s

Salmon's editor, Jessie Lendennie, answers your Frequently Asked Questions

Some people despise what they see as the pretentious, insincere literary world. It certainly is desirable to have a critical sense, but not to confuse the context with the content. In other words, while any arts discipline (indeed, almost anything!) can seem corrupt from outside, unless one examines and participates in the give and take of it all (importantly adding your own experience) you are writing in a vacuum. Creativity feeds on experience - it's important to discriminate but not to block experience. It is useful to remember that what we despise and reject will haunt us; hampering creative development.

There's no getting away from the fact that it's necessary to have experience and exposure for your work by publishing individual poems before trying book publication. The reasons for this are many and varied: From establishing a reputation to honing your craft. There is a necessary period of apprenticeship for any art form which demands focus and dedication. The writing of poetry
unfortunately comes with a stock of misconceptions. Writing is a major part of communication, and we do it from an early age. Writing our feelings can come quite naturally, and we can lose sight of the fact that poetry is also an art form which demands that one is able to strike an intelligent balance between deeply felt experience and the rational, critical ability necessary to craft the experience into Poetry.

As with any art, there are people who derive great pleasure from their creativity for its own sake. There are people who make poetry for their own pleasure and don't want to go further. This is all part of what poetry means to us. However, if one aims to become professional and be taken seriously as a poet, one must go beyond the emotional high of creating. Insight is wonderful and necessary for a full life, but in poetry it has to blend with craft and originality.

We must all be very honest with ourselves about what we want for our poetry, our creativity. Above all never assume that your inner life is the only Truth. Catharsis is liberating, yes; then the work begins. Take the necessary steps to finely tune your writing - shaping it into an original piece.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This Week: Jane Kenyon's Who


These lines are written
by an animal, an angel,
a stranger sitting in my chair;
by someone who already knows
how to live without trouble
among books, and pots and pans.

Who is it who asks me to find
language for the sound
a sheep's hoof makes when it strikes
a stone? And who speaks
the words which are my food?

- Jane Kenyon

My father, Iser

cigarette in one hand
treat for Queenie in the other

Monday, February 27, 2006

My Classes, Week of Feb. 13 '06

How To Be a Poet by Wendell Berry
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.

- Wendell Berry

How To Be a Poet by Wendell Berry from Given New Poems, © Shoemaker, Hoard, Washington, D.C. Reprinted FROM WRITER'S ALMANAC

Monday, February 13, 2006

In Honor of the Trees, Tu B'Shevat

Esther's CLL classes, Week of Feb. 13 '06

Choices by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, a nest is clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

© Tess Gallagher



Cancer Lifeline Women Writers Reading Series #2
Wed. Feb 15, 2006, 6 - 8:00 pm

Participants in Esther’s writing groups at the Greenlake site and at Northwest Hospital, will read from their work.

Ravenna's Third Place Books (in the Honey bear Bakery)

6504 20th Ave NE
Wheelchair accessible. Free
Open mike as time allows

CANCER LIFELINE'S MISSION: Optimizing the quality of life of all people affected by cancer-- patients, survivors, family, friends, caregivers and coworkers.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lisel Mueller's Curriculum Vitae

Esther’s CLL classes, Week of Feb. 6 '06

Curriculum Vitae
by Lisel Mueller


1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea.

2) In the year of my birth, money was shredded into
confetti. A loaf of bread cost a million marks. Of
course I do not remember this.

3) Parents and grandparents hovered around me. The
world I lived in had a soft voice and no claws.

4) A cornucopia filled with treats took me into a building
with bells. A wide-bosomed teacher took me in.

5) At home the bookshelves connected heaven and earth.

6) On Sundays the city child waded through pinecones
and primrose marshes, a short train ride away.

7) My country was struck by history more deadly than
earthquakes or hurricanes.

8) My father was busy eluding the monsters. My mother
told me the walls had ears. I learned the burden of secrets.

9) I moved into the too bright days, the too dark nights
of adolescence.

10) Two parents, two daughters, we followed the sun
and the moon across the ocean. My grandparents stayed
behind in darkness.

11) In the new language everyone spoke too fast. Eventually
I caught up with them.

12) When I met you, the new language became the language
of love.

13) The death of the mother hurt the daughter into poetry.
The daughter became a mother of daughters.

14) Ordinary life: the plenty and thick of it. Knots tying
threads to everywhere. The past pushed away, the future left
unimagined for the sake of the glorious, difficult, passionate

15) Years and years of this.

16) The children no longer children. An old man's pain, an
old man's loneliness.

17) And then my father too disappeared.

18) I tried to go home again. I stood at the door to my
childhood, but it was closed to the public.

19) One day, on a crowded elevator, everyone's face was younger
than mine.

20) So far, so good. The brilliant days and nights are
breathless in their hurry. We follow, you and I.

From Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by
Lisel Mueller, published by Louisiana State University Press.
Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller All rights reserved.


Cancer Lifeline Women Writers Reading Series #2
Wed. Feb 15, 2006, 6 - 8:00 pm

Participants in Esther’s writing groups at the Greenlake site
and at Northwest Hospital, will read from their work.

Ravenna's Third Place Books (in the Honey bear Bakery)

6504 20th Ave NE
Wheelchair accessible. Free
Open mike as time allows

CANCER LIFELINE'S MISSION: Optimizing the quality of life
of all people affected by cancer-- patients, survivors, family,
friends, caregivers and coworkers.