Marimekko in a Pinksy Poem

30 Sep

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The following is an excerpt from a poem written by the former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. He briefly mentions Marimekko curtains as something one might mention with a psychiatrist when speaking of desire.

To read the poem in its entirety, please visit

Essay on Psychiatrists


XVII. Their Patients

As a rule, the patients I know do not pace

Furiously, nor scream, nor shoot doctors. For them,

To be a patient seems not altogether different

From one’s interest in Ann Landers and her clients:

Her virtue of taking it all on, answering

Any question (artificial insemination by grandpa;

The barracuda of a girl who says that your glasses

Make you look square) and her virtue of saying,

Buster (or Dearie) stop complaining and do

What you want … and often that seems to be the point:

After the glassware from Design Research, after

A place on the Cape with Marimekko drapes,

The superlative radio and shoes, comes

The contingency tax—serious people, their capacity

For mere hedonism fills up, one seems to need

To perfect more complex ideas of desire,

To overcome altruism in the technical sense,

To learn to say no when you mean no and yes

When you mean yes, a standard of cui bono, a standard

Which, though it seems to be the inverse

Of more Spartan or Christian codes, is no less

Demanding in its call, inward in this case, to duty.

It suggests a kind of league of men and women dedicated

To their separate, inward duties, holding in common

Only the most general standard, or no standard

Other than valuing a sense of the conflict

Among standards, a league recalling in its mutual

Conflict and comfort the well-known fact that psychiatrists,

Too, are the patients of other psychiatrists,

Working dutifully—cui bono—at the inward standards.

Robert Pinsky, “Essay on Psychiatrists” from Sadness and Happiness. © 1975 by Princeton University Press, renewed 2003.
Source: The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996 (Princeton University Press, 1996)

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