A native of Boston, John Ciardi (1916–86) was a prolific poet who produced 21 books during his career. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and then enrolled at the University of Michigan to earn his master’s, doing so in 1939. During the Second World War, Ciardi served as an Air Corps gunner in the Pacific Theater. Postwar, Ciardi taught English at both Harvard and Rutgers Universities until 1961 when he decided to concentrate on his writing. Much of his work focused on children’s poetry. Ciardi also edited the Sunday Review and hosted a weekly radio segment on National Public Radio titled “A Word in Your Ear.” In the early 1980s he received a National Teachers Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
Author: John Ciardi
John Ciardi (1916–86), American poet and translator, was a gunner in the US Army Air Forces, serving aboard B-29 bombers in the Pacific theater of World War II. Following the war, Ciardi taught at the University of Kansas, Harvard University, and Rutgers University. This poem (1955) recalls the flag-draped coffin of an otherwise unidentified man named Arthur, and reflects on the relation between the man, the box, the flag, and the republic for which it stands.