Most Like an Arch This Marriage

By John Ciardi 1916–1986 John Ciardi
Most like an arch—an entrance which upholds   
and shores the stone-crush up the air like lace.   
Mass made idea, and idea held in place.   
A lock in time. Inside half-heaven unfolds.

Most like an arch—two weaknesses that lean   
into a strength. Two fallings become firm.   
Two joined abeyances become a term   
naming the fact that teaches fact to mean.

Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is,   
what’s strong and separate falters. All I do   
at piling stone on stone apart from you   
is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss

I am no more than upright and unset.   
It is by falling in and in we make
the all-bearing point, for one another’s sake,   
in faultless failing, raised by our own weight.

John Ciardi, “Most Like an Arch This Marriage” from I Marry You (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1958). Used with the permission of the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust.

Source: The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997)

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Poet John Ciardi 1916–1986

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship

Occasions Weddings

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 John  Ciardi


To millions of Americans, the late John Ciardi was "Mr. Poet, the one who has written, talked, taught, edited, translated, anthologized, criticized, and propelled poetry into a popular, lively art," according to Peter Comer of the Chicago Tribune. Although recognized primarily as a poet and critic, Ciardi's literary endeavors encompassed a vast range of material. From juvenile nonsense poetry to scholarly verse translations, . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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