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Other Skies by John Ciardi

Other Skies by John Ciardi


Boston : Little, Brown and Company, 1947. First Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 83 pages ; 22 cm. $2.00 dust jacket with minimal wear. Lite foxing to front and rear endpapers. Minor soiling and rubbing to cover cloth. Storage odor to pages. Pages are unmarked and age toned. Binding is firm.

"By an accident of chaos," the poet says, war was the central experience which called forth many of the lyrics in this book, for Ciardi is of the war generation. His thoughts, the language and the images with which he expresses them, belong to this generation. That Ciardi is a sensitive and perceptive, articulate member of it enhances immeasurably his reader's feeling of shared experience.

The book divides into four parts, according to the events that inspired the poems: The first etches sharply and amusingly scenes of the world before the war — at the beach, in the classroom, at commencement. The poems of the second part were written during flight training — "Here to moth balls I consign my civil colors, fit and line"— facile rhyme, matching the rote of the machine he entered, and yet "The machine Whose part and function he was born Is all his history need rest upon." The third part contains poems written while flying combat on Saipan. The fourth group is of postwar poems — "all that he did not find, you have not found." . . .

Ciardi is a new, developing poet, with a clarity of thought and breadth of image that deserve wide attention, and with a technique in words that matures even in the short course of this book.

TO JOHN CIARDI poetry is the personal record of a man trying to live meaningfully; to the extent that the poet's insight is real, the record is valuable. He believes that poetry should not generalize, that the meaning must come through the specific objects and events that shape the poet. The events of which he writes in OTHER SKIES shaped five years of his life. "I will not write the same things again because the same things can not happen exactly so again."

John Ciardi is a native of Medford, Massachusetts, thirty years old. He is a graduate of Tufts and of the University of Michigan, where his first book of poems, HOMEWARD TO AMERICA, won one of the largest Avery Hopwood awards ever given for a book of poetry. It was published by Holt in 1939. Since then his work has appeared in most of the magazines that publish serious poetry. As the central portion of poems in OTHER SKIES clearly records, he was in the Air Corps during the war, a Central Fire Control gunner with the rank of sergeant on a B-29, flying many missions in the Pacific. He is now teaching English at Harvard.

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