Most Like an Arch This Marriage

When we think of love, a large majority of people view the highest love and deepest love that one


"The Arch of Triumph" Paris,France

can attain is that of Marriage. “Most Like an Arch This Marriage” by John Ciardi represents what marriage means. The Poetry Foundation shows that John Ciardi, who was known as “Mr. Poet” according to Peter Comer of the Chicago Tribune, was born in 1916 to Italian immigrant parents. It is in his poem “Most Like an Arch this Marriage” that we look at how the poem represents love and its ties to marriage. I chose to focus on this poem and its multiple views on love such as marriage being compared to an arch as two side of an arch (the two people) who are weak when standing by themselves but stronger when leaning on each other. Other aspects I will be focusing on include how strong the sanctity of marriage is in this poem, how falling in love and going through with marriage is a strong commitment, and how marriage takes effort from both sides to uphold itself and become strong enough to bear the weight of life’s challenges that a couple will go through together. When finished reading, my main goal is to have the reader gain an understanding that marriage is about love and all of the ups and downs that come with it and giving yourself completely to someone else.

I chose this poem because it was very personal to me being that I am recently married. I was able to identify with what Ciardi was writing because I was single for the longest time and I felt that I was strong enough to be on my own. Although, while I may have been able to hold myself up and function on my own as one half of the arch, when I met my wife, I found that together, she and I were much stronger and would be able to go through life better equipped to handle the rigors of the world because we each had someone to which we could weather the storms and bask in the sunshine with. When Ciardi wrote “Most like and arch- two weaknesses that lean into a strength”, he portrays a sense of strength that makes the reader feel as if there is nothing in life heavy enough to make the arch crumble or break. “Two fallings become firm.” he continues, and illustrates that although each person may have their own flaws and failings, when leaning on the other person, they become stronger than ever before (Ciardi 774). Examples of this may be when one person is a procrastinator and the other is a very focused and likes to get things done early and helps the procrastinator get motivated to get a task done or when one person is an introvert and the other an extrovert and they are in social setting that required the introvert to speak more than they normally would, the introvert may be able to lean on the extrovert spouse or partner and be more inclined to meet new people and carry on conversations. Another example may be when someone has an issue such as depression or is unhappy about certain aspects, the other person is there to lift them up and bring happiness and confidence that things will be O.K. and that they are not alone in their trials and troubles.

The poem also conveys the sanctity of marriage when Ciardi writes “Inside half-heaven unfolds”. In many religions, one constant is the afterlife, or heaven. This is the ultimate goal for someone to achieve and can usually only be achieved by living a certain lifestyle while on earth. However, when Ciardi wrote about marriage being “half-heaven”, it conveys marriage as being the closest thing to heaven a person could experience while living a mortal life. To think of all of the happiness and emotions on a wedding day and how many people, including myself, consider themselves blessed to be able to live with the love of their life for the remainder of their time on earth, it could easily be seen as one being halfway to heaven. Nobody on earth can tell you exactly what heaven will be like, but to think that if marriage is halfway to heaven or even a step closer to the experiences you will have in heaven, heaven does not seem like such a bad place. Now, it must be noted that not all of marriages experiences are heavenly and sometimes cause arguments and grief, but is single life any different? To consider the good times and the happiness that come along with marriage and having a life partner, and then double it, it helps you gain an appreciation of what heaven may be like and how fortunate you may be if you are dating the person you know you want to marry, engaged, or married.

This poem also illustrates the binding and strength of marriage in many instances. When he writes “Two joined abeyances become a term naming the fact that teaches fact to mean”, it portrays to the reader that when two people wed, they become one in the same and that there is no questioning that, it is fact (Ciardi 774). When two people marry, they give up all that they are individually to one another to better themselves together as well as individually. These people uncover things about themselves they may not have noticed before that need changing or things that become better and stronger due to the combining of their life together. When two people are dating and then become engaged to marry, they are taking that first step in a commitment to one another for a lifetime. On the wedding day, in a traditional American marriage, after the vows are spoken and the rings are exchanged, two individuals are now one. When Ciardi writes “A lock in time,” what comes to mind, is the wedding day, and that from that moment on, they are no longer two separate people but a team of two. The day of marriage could be considered a lock in time because it is observed by married couples as they recognize their anniversary every year.

Although I have only been married for three months, I have already realized that marriage takes effort from both people to remain strong, remain healthy, and to grow and to prosper. As John Ciardi writes “It is by falling in and in we make all-bearing point, for one another’s sake, in faultless failing, raised by our own weight..”, he explains that each person is going to have their faults and at times both people may fail in something together, but it is with the love and strength of their marriage, that they are able sustain through and rise up from whatever the situation is and be stronger for having gone through it. I have already been through instances such as this and can only imagine that life will present more of the situations down the road. However, as my wife and I go through life together and experience the ups and the downs, those experiences will strengthen our relationship through time. One example I can provide is a personal one in that there may be things that my spouse may do that I do not like, and vice versa. However, it is with an effort to communicate that we discuss the little things before they pile on top of each other and a one small thing ends up causing a huge argument. We must also remember to put forth an effort to remember the love that brought us into marriage is the love that will keep the marriage going and make it stronger. Much like the two sides of an arch, when two people lean on one another and effort is applied, the marriage becomes stronger and can withstand much more than they could alone.

John Ciardi

"Jobn Ciardi" Bing Search. 2 December 2013

Hopefully by now you have gained a better understanding of the ties between love and marriage and what John Ciardi felt as he wrote “Most Like an Arch This Marriage”. The two people act as arches in a marriage in that they each need the other to uphold the marriage. The love between two people needed to enter into and maintain marriage will need effort applied by each person to withstand the many aspects of life, an appreciation for the sanctity of marriage, a commitment stronger than any other, and an understanding of knowing that two individuals, once standing alone, are stronger for being joined together and leaning upon one another. These aspects can all be identified in the many lines of the poem. I encourage you to read the poem as well and consider your stance and feelings as you read through. As you do, hopefully you will find that an arch is an excellent metaphor to compare to love and marriage and how strong it can be.

Works Cited

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

“John Ciardi” 2013. The Poetry Foundation website. 23 September 2013.

< >

“Most like an Arch This Marriage” 2013. The Poetry Foundation website. 23 September 2013

< >

“Famous Arch” Image. Bing Search. Bing. 23 September 2013. 23 September 2013

< >

“John Ciardi” Image. Bing Search. Bing. 02 December 2013. 02 December 2013


Most Like an Arch This Marriage