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....Conrad Aiken is a poet in the sense that his work displays a certain harmonious development upon a given groundwork. His first volume, "Earth Triumphant," proved that he was the possessor of an instrument. It is true that he played on this instrument with a dangerous facility. For in him the sense of metrical rhythm and the answering recall of rhyme was given from the very first. Other poets have to enter the great vague world of thought that beckons them, by hacking and hewing their way through a forest of experimental forms-a process which is calculated to kill off all but the stoutest. There was nothing of this in Aiken. He was master of a smooth limpid flow of verse narrative from the beginning. He did not have to learn and unlearn his technique. It was an authentic gift. Such a poet is rare enough even in England, still rarer in America.
But it was not until the appearance of his second volume, "Turns and Movies," that Aiken began to use his powers for the deliberate expression of any new idea. Since that volume he has published two others, "The Jig of Forslin" and now the "Nocturne of Remembered Spring," which this morning's post has brought to my desk in London. Throughout these three works there runs a sole essential idea. Aiken is the poet of sexual illusion and disillusion.
It will be remembered that Aiken admits being a Freudian. Indeed, his most remarkable work, "The Jig of Forslin," was constructed as a deliberate Freudian synthesis of civilized man's mind -to quote its author, "Forslin is not a man, but man." Now the substance of the Freudian psychology is this; that the major part of the higher psychical reactions of mankind may be traced to sexual impulse, suppressed, transformed, and sublimated. It is true that Freud himself has never pushed this theory to the point which it occupies in the minds of many of his more fanatical followers, such as Jung. For Freud, what part of any human imaginative effort could be traced to sublimated libido would probably vary with every given case. But the theory that man does normally discharge along lines of imaginative art and phantasy the superfluity of his sexual reactions, remains to Freud, as to Aiken, unquestionable. Now the difficulty with any psychological theory of this sort is that it tends to stereotype minds, to make all the activities of the human brain seem alike.....
- The Dial, Volume 64 
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