A Marriage Quite Like an Arch

John Ciardi’s poem “Most Like an Arch This Marriage”. Ciardi uses symbolism, similes, metaphors, and imagery when comparing marriage to an arch. Marriage is about strength, when two connections come together and meet each other in the middle to form a strong bond as they uphold one another. The poem describes marriage as an archway that can withstand the forces of nature and gain its strength from two pillars that come together at one point.

In the first quatrain, the speaker turns to the description of how a marriage is like an arch, using formal diction to illustrate an image in the reader’s mind with similes, “Most like an arch–an entrance which upholds” (Line 1).

Both sides of an arch hold an entrance up; an arch is typically a “curved structural member spanning an opening and serving as a support” (“Arch” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 1 June 2014). “Mass made idea, and idea held in place; A lock in time; Inside half-heaven unfolds” (3-4).

Passion a man has for his woman is sealed by the bond of marriage, a sacred bond “locked in time”, “inside half-heaven”, a marriage searches for unity and perfection.

In the second quatrain, the speaker compares two weaknesses, two fallings, two joined abeyances that mold into one strength. “Most like an arch–two weaknesses that lean into a strength; two falling become firm / Two joined abeyances become a term naming the fact that teaches fact to mean” (5-8). Two individuals leading a single life have many obstacles to face, but when the two individuals conjoin they become stronger as one, and as one they can tackle whatever obstacle that is thrown their way as long as they’re united.

In the third quatrain, the speaker portrays a longing, a need between two strengths. “Not quite that? Not much less. World as it is, what’s strong and separate falter” (9-10). A strayed individual maybe strong, but walking alone makes that individual weak. “All I do, at piling stone on stone apart from you is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss” (11-12). “Piling stone on stone”, building a wall between them, when you are apart from your significant other it feels like an eternity, like you are missing your other half, “apart from you is roofless around nothing” (11-12). “Till we kiss” (12), the separation feels like an eternity until we kiss, and then it feels like we are whole again.

In the final quatrain, the speaker explains that even though couples are flawed, they are together through thick and thin. “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” (14-16). 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 to rise up from whatever obstacle and be stronger for having gone through it together.