He published 38 books, 12 of them for children, one a translation of Dante. He was a fine poet.
I’ve zeroed an altimeter on the floor
then raised it to a table and read three feet.
Nothing but music knows what air is
more precisely than this. I read on its face
Sensitive Altimeter and believe it.
Once on a clear day over Arkansas
I watched the ridges on the radar screen,
then looked down from the blister and hung like prayer:
the instrument was perfect: ridge by ridge
the electric land was true as the land it took from.
These, I am persuaded, are instances
round as the eye to see with,
perfections of one place in the visited world
and omens to the godly
teaching an increase of possibility.
I imagine that when a civilization
equal to its instruments is born
we may prepare to build such cities as music
arrives to on the air, lands where we are
the instruments of April in the seed.
From John Ciardi: Selected Poems ©1984
Ciardi died in 1986 at the age of seventy. Damnit.