Tag Archives: sex

Odd poem: Margaret Mead(?), ‘Hogamus Higamus’

Hogamus, higamus,
Man is polygamous;
Higamus, hogamus,
Woman’s monogamous.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is American anthropologist Margaret Mead‘s creation. I have a clear memory of reading the story many years ago, probably in ‘Male and Female’, of her waking up in the middle of the night with an understanding of the secret of the universe. She grabbed the pencil and paper she kept by her bedside and wrote it down, then went back to the sleep. And in the morning she found she had written the above verse.

I was so certain it was Margaret Mead that I began this blog post about her before trying to check which book the verse came from and if I had the wording correct. (I last read Mead decades ago, and I leave beyond the reach of bookstores and real libraries.) To my frustration, all I can find in Google is attribution to William James, Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, Bertrand Russell, Alice Duer Miller… and Mrs. Amos Pinchot, who allegedly denied authorship. According to Quote Investigator, “The first known evidence of this unusual anecdote appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper in November 1939. The article ‘Thanksgiving Nightmare’ by Claire MacMurray (…) presented a supposed episode in the mental life of a person named Mrs. Amos Pinchot”, and tells the tale as I remember it. Mead’s ‘Male and Female’ came out in 1949, so (if the poem was in that book) it may have been referring to the Pinchot story, or it may have been something that had happened more than ten years previously to Mead, and she had shared the story and it had spread by itself.

The poem itself is brief, witty, amusing. It is rhythmic, repetitive, well rhymed, very catchy. Those are all excellent qualities. As for the content, it seems very 20th century: it gives the impression of having broken out of the conventions of society and church, and to be saying that the two sexes have differing needs for propagating themselves successfully. It is also 20th century in being simplistic. Where does the concept of serial monogamy fall? How does the rhyme relate to the LGBTQ+ members of society? The verse is definitely not comprehensive enough for the 21st century. But Margaret Mead was a controversial opener of cans of worms in the early 20th century, and that is where this little poem came from. Her obsession with gender roles and her self-deprecating humour make her a good candidate for its author.

And where the poem came from, apparently, was a communication from the unconscious, a gift to the dreamer. Always respect and preserve what the Muse offers you – who knows, a couple of lines of verse may be treasured and quoted for a hundred years!

“Sex and Temperament in three primitive societies” by your neighborhood librarian is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Poem: “Eva’s Trip”

Eva

(Poster for Prostitution Support Centre, Norway)

Some of the girls I know
Go to the University
Sit so pretty
Prissy
Kiss-kiss and cissy
With beautiful boys that they know
Friends to drink tea with
Chat with and be with
Feather-headed into the feather-bedded night.

Oh no, sweet Jesus, hear me. I scream.
Such a life of show
Is beyond what I dream.
Give me a man who I’ll never know
A man without feelings, without wrong or right
Without obligations
Except for the money.
Let him be cold and hard as the money
And the money as dirty and evil as me.
I can’t trust feelings, I never trust feelings
And I don’t care
That I can’t care…
I don’t dare.

Some of the girls that I’ve seen
Listen to that classy music, they sit
And play piano while they drink their tea.
That’s somewhere I’ve never been.
Cello! Piano!! What SHIT!

Sweet JESus CATCH me beFORE I SCREAM
give me ROCK, ROCK, give me ROCK oh give me ROCK
ROCK, give me ROCK, give me ROCK
blast my MIND let me DROWN give me SO much of ALL
that my HEAD and my BODy are FINally SOUND
give me ROCK, ROCK, give me ROCK, ROCK
give me ROCK rock ROCK rock ROCK, ROCK
DROWN me DROWN me, LET me go DOWN
aWAY
aWAY
aWAY.

Some of the kids from my school
Would sit down to a smoke, have a toke and cool down,
Drift round the town feeling cool.
Not me.

Some of the students I’ve seen
Trip out on acid, they want to expand.
They want to feel all that they can, and still more.
Not me.

Give me JUNK.
Give me the rush and the bliss of fuck-all.
Give me the unsatisfaction of life.
Give me the treadmill toward the next fix,
The stealing or whoring, the need, the despair
Of being whipped up an unending stair.
A problem of Now I can just about handle,
The safety in knowing tomorrow’s the same
And the whole problem, thank God, unthinkable,
Only the treadmill toward the next fix,
The fix of nothingness, of peaceful nothing.
And let me not think
LET me not THINK
Sweet JESus if I THINK even ONCE
I’ll SCREAM I’ll SCREAM I’ll SCREAM
I’ll DIE.

This poem was originally published in Ambit in the UK when the delightful Martin Bax was editor, and has been reprinted various times, most recently under the name “Eva’s Trip” by Bewildering Stories, edited by Don Webb and John Stocks.

I wrote the poem when I was living in Copenhagen at a time that there was a lot of concern about young people from across Europe running away to Denmark, especially to Copenhagen’s “Freetown Christiania”, and ending up in prostitution. A big newspaper investigation on the subject gave the pseudonym Eva to a teenager they interviewed, and I thought the name well-chosen for the combination of innocence together with the knowledge of good and evil that such people have.