Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Art of Losing

I have been in the process of saying farewell to a people and a place that I love, and I sense that more loss is fast approaching. All that to say, Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art" (one of my favorites) keeps coming to mind. The parenthetical thoughts add authenticity to the speaker's voice:

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979

1 comment:

sarahe said...

that's beautiful...a lovely way to think about it