For Instance

By John Ciardi 1916–1986 John Ciardi
A boy came up the street and there was a girl.   
"Hello," they said in passing, then didn’t pass.   
They began to imagine. They imagined all night   
and woke imagining what the other imagined.   
Later they woke with no need to imagine.
They were together. They kept waking together.   
Once they woke a daughter who got up
and went looking for something without looking back.   
But they had one another. Then one of them died.   
It makes no difference which. Either. The other   
tried to imagine dying, and couldn’t really,
but died later, maybe to find out,
though probably not. Not everything that happens   
is a learning experience. Maybe nothing is.

John Ciardi, "For Instance" from For Instance. Copyright © 1979 by John Ciardi.  Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Poetry (August 1978).


This poem originally appeared in the August 1978 issue of Poetry magazine

August 1978
 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, Relationships, Men & Women

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