John Ciardi

John Ciardi Poems

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
...

What lifts the heron leaning on the air
I praise without a name. A crouch, a flare,
a long stroke through the cumulus of trees,
a shaped thought at the sky - then gone. O rare!
...

Morning glories, pale as a mist drying,
fade from the heat of the day, but already
hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg
hooks have found and are boarding them
...

Yesterday Mrs. Friar phoned.'Mr. Ciardi,
how do you do?' she said. 'I am sorry to say
this isn't exactly a social call. The fact is
your dog has just deposited-forgive me-
a large repulsive object in my petunias.'
...

The thing about a shark is—teeth,
One row above, one row beneath.

Now take a close look. Do you find
...

Night after night forever the dolls lay stiff
by the children's dreams. On the goose-feathers of the rich,
on the straw of the poor, on the gypsy ground—
wherever the children slept, dolls have been found
...

7.

I did not have exactly a way of life
but the bee amazed me and the wind's plenty
was almost believable. Hearing a magpie laugh
...

Men marry what they need. I marry you,
morning by morning, day by day, night by night,
and every marriage makes this marriage new.

In the broken name of heaven, in the light
...

Machine stitched rivets ravel on a tree
Whose name he does not know. Left in the sky,
He dangles from a silken cumulus
(Stork's bundle upside down
...

Once I had 1000 roses.
Literally 1000 roses.
I was working for a florist
back in the shambling ‘Thirties
...

The catalpa's white week is ending there
in its corner of my yard. It has its arms full
of its own flowering now, but the least air
spills off a petal and a breeze lets fall
...

I am in Rome, Vatican bells tolling
a windowful of God and Bernini.
My neighbor, the Pope, has died
and God overnight, has wept
...

—Now let me tell you why I said that.
Try to put yourself into an experimental mood.
Stop right here and try to review everything
you felt about that line. Did you accept it
...

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.
...

No one can wish nothing.
Even that death wish sophomores
are nouveau-glib about
reaches for a change of notice
...

There is no widening distance at the shore—
The sea revolving slowly from the piers—
But the one border of our take-off roar
And we are mounted on the hemispheres.
...

There are diagrams on stilts all wired together
Over the hill and the wind and out of sight.
There is a scar in the trees where they walk away
Beyond me. There are signs of something
...

The disease of civilization is not tools, citizen.
Ignorance might be closer to it.
Politics closer. But only Money
Will hit the brass tacks everyone wants to get down to
...

John Ciardi Biography

John Anthony Ciardi (June 24, 1916 – March 30, 1986) was an American poet, translator, and etymologist. While primarily known as a poet, he also translated Dante's Divine Comedy, wrote several volumes of children's poetry, pursued etymology, contributed to the Saturday Review as a columnist and long-time poetry editor, and directed the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont. In 1959, Ciardi published a book on how to read, write, and teach poetry, How Does a Poem Mean?, which has proven to be among the most-used books of its kind. At the peak of his popularity in the early 1960s, Ciardi also had a network television program on CBS, Accent. Ciardi's impact on poetry is perhaps best measured through the younger poets whom he influenced as a teacher and as editor of The Saturday Review.)

The Best Poem Of John Ciardi

Why Nobody Pets The Lion At The Zoo

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he'd been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that's as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at 'im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

True, the Lion is better fit
For biting than for being bit.

But if you look him in the eye
You'll find the Lion's rather shy.

He really wants someone to pet him.
The trouble is: his teeth won't let him.

He has a heart of gold beneath
But the Lion just can't trust his teeth.

John Ciardi Comments

ELINOR H. 09 February 2019

THERE'S A POEM BY JOHN CIARDI (I THINK) ABOUT TURNING NINE - WHEN YOU'RE STILL IN THE SINGLE DIGITS - AND YOU'L NOW STAY IN THE DOUBLE DIGITS UNTIL YOU TURN 100. DOES ANYONE REMEMBER AND CAN DIRECT ME TO THIS POEM?

3 0 Reply
Rena P 30 September 2018

I was looking for a poem entitled, Rules. It is by John Ciardi Whatever way a thing is done it's wrong as I hope you know for that is the rule of one times one...

1 1 Reply
sally walsh 02 September 2018

looking for John Ciardi's Two Egrets

2 0 Reply
Katy grischy 09 August 2018

Cannot find John Ciardi's poem Cezanne anywhere! Can you help?

1 0 Reply
Em Smith 12 May 2014

I absolutely love love love Ciardi's poetry, but I was disappointed to find that my favourite of is poems, 'My Father's Watch', is not available on poemhunter. Any chance this could be rectified?

14 7 Reply
Syed Hashmi 19 March 2022

I can't find John Ciardi's On An Ecdysiast poem on the net.

0 0 Reply

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