Underneath the Arches
Royal Border Bridge.


            In the poem “Most Like an Arch This Marriage” (Delbanco 774), John Ciardi states that in order to have a strong marriage or a good love, two people must learn to be like the two sides of an arch and lean into each other for strength.  This poem would be classified in the “good love” category. The definition of an arch is typically a curved structural member spanning an opening and serving as a support, examples are door frames or bridge supports.   An arch holds up things like walls or bridges and can also be a covering or a protection in things like arbors or pergolas.  A good, strong and loving relationship needs to have the strength of two people coming together who are willing to protect each other in all phases of their relationship.   

 In the opening lines, John Ciardi has written, “Most like an arch-an entrance which upholds and shores the stone-crush up the air like lace” (Ciardi 774).  In this line, the author is talking about how life can crush a marriage. A good marriage is based on trusting each other to help against the stone crush of daily life and how each partner can fill the cracks in the lace with love to gain the strength to stand against the forces of nature.  When two people come together in a marriage they are strong and stand firm, but apart they are weak and fall down.  In hard times we must rely on our spouse to join with us in standing strong against the stone crush of life. 

Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

            The arch in marriage is a symbol of unity, perfection, renewal, hope, trust, and most important the strength of love.  The pillars of a marriage are unique in design because together they can hold up a lot of weight, an example is a bridge, but one pillar alone would collapse. Ciardi states, “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” (Ciardi 774).  As a couple keeps falling deeper and deeper in love, the all bearing point of an arch is accomplished by each one half joining to the other half to form the arch.

             The line “All I do at piling stone on stone apart from you is roofless around nothing” (Ciardi 774).  In this part of the poem, the arch is symbolized as a covering to protect a marriage, a safe place.  This protection could come from God or by bringing two sides or people together.   The covering of love or a sanctuary is a place where a person or persons can go to feel safe and protected against the stone crush of life.

An arch is a good example of the unification of two people.  The arch is not only for strength, but a covering for protection, a safe place.  With this concept of an arch, there is strength and a lasting relationship of trust and true love.  As Ciardi expresses in this line, “A lock in time.  Inside half heaven unfolds” (Ciardi 774).   John Ciardi has made it clear that one person cannot make a marriage strong.  A strong marriage is made by two people standing together, upholding each other, against the forces of nature.

A Little About John Ciardi

The poem "Most Like an Arch This Marriage"(Delbanco774). was written by John Anthony Ciardi.  He was born in 1916 and died in 1986.  He graduated from Tufts University and the University of Michigan.  Ciardi taught at the University of Kansas City, Harvard University and Rutgers University and also served in the Army Air Force during World War II.  John Ciardi was an American poet, translator and etymologist.  He was also an editor of the Saturday Review and had a program on CBS television network in the 1960s

=Works Cited =

Biography of John Ciardi. n.d. 22 September 2013. <>.

Biography for John Ciardi. n.d. 22 September 2013. <>.

Ciardi, John. "Most Like an Arch This Marrriage." Delbanco, Nicholas and Alan Cheuse. Literature Craft and Voice. Second Edition. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 774. Print.

Delbanco, Nicholas and Alan Cheruse. Literature Craft and Voice. Second Edition. New York City: Mc Graw-Hill, 2012. Print.

Merrian-Webster. n.d. 11 September 2013.