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 ... more »
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John Ciardi Poems
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
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.'
About The Teeth Of Sharks
The thing about a shark is—teeth, One row above, one row beneath. Now take a close look. Do you find
Men Marry What They Need
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
Most Like An Arch This Marriage
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.
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
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
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!
The Pilot In The Jungle
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
Bees And Morning Glories
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
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
An Apartment With A View
I am in Rome, Vatican bells tolling a windowful of God and Bernini. My neighbor, the Pope, has died and God overnight, has wept
Nothing Is Really Hard But To Be Real—
—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
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
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 ...