Elizabeth Bishop's beautiful poem about the art of losing has been running through my head this week. You can't love a person, place, or thing without fearing its loss or without suffering greatly when you do lose it. The poem says that the art "isn't hard to master," but then enumerates loss after loss, large and small, demonstrating how very hard the art really is.
by Elizabeth Bishop
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.
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.
It's not possible to break up a poem like this well; for one thing, it's a villanelle and the rhyme scheme is a joy to behold. It all needs to be read together. Here's the whole thing. In the sidebar, there are links to "Poems About Difficult Love." What other kind of love is there? And yet, the idea that we could lose what we love makes that love so much more intense. When I think of how easily I could have lost my husband on January 12th, I love him more than ever. As long as we live in this world, love and loss are linked. The older I get, the harder this art becomes to master.
Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.
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