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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Planting the seed of an idea

 “A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.” – John Ciardi

How Does a Poem Mean? asked John Ciardi in 1959 and this interesting and insightful teacher and writer suddenly opened the door to the wonders of both writing and reading poetry to generations of young people who continue to study his book in classrooms everywhere.    Born on this date in 1916, Ciardi was a poet, a terrific etymologist, essayist, radio commentator, and translator of one of the most complex writings in history – Dante’s Divine Comedy. 
                            Read Ciardi’s book on how to write and understand poetry, then read his books – Homeward to America and Other Skies, bracketing World War II, to see the breadth and depth of one of America’s best poets.    Also a much sought after teacher, he directed the famed Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont and noted, "The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it.”  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Ciardi’s,
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

through a ghost town in Wyoming, saying Hello
in Cambridge, eating cheese by the frothy Rhine,
leaning from plexiglass over Tokyo,

I was not able to make one life of all
the presences I haunted. Still the bee
amazed me, and I did not care to call

accounts from the wind. Once only, at Pompeii,
I fell into a sleep I understood,
and woke to find I had not lost my way.

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