The Mask of Sanity, a Sonnet by Hervey Cleckley


The Mask of Sanity

From chaos shaped, the Bios grows. In bone
And viscus broods the Id. And who can say
Whence Eros comes? Or chart his troubled way?
Nor bearded sage, nor science, yet has shown
How truth or love, when met, is straightly known;
Some phrases singing in our dust today
Have taunted logic through man’s Odyssey:
Yet, strangely, man sometimes will find his own.
And even man has felt the arcane flow
Whence brims unchanged the very Attic wine,
Where lives that mute and death-eclipsing glow
That held the Lacedaemonian battle line:
And this, I think, may make what man is choose
The doom of joy he knows he can but lose.

– Hervey Cleckley, M.D., from The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality, 1941

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