Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry Friday: The Art of Losing

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.

One Art

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.


Anonymous said...

I adore this poem. It is lovely that it speaks to you, but you are correct - loss is not something that gets easier to master with time. But I suppose we learn that we can go on after loss, and that is, I think, something.

Hugs to you.

Janet said...

This is a poem I've returned to at different times too. Thanks for the poem and the truthful words.

Laura said...

I think behind every loss was love. The greater we love, the greater the loss.

But this is the glass half full/ half empty (loss) conundrum. I tend to see the glass half full (love).

Laura Evans
all things poetry

Mary Lee said...

"Difficult love...what other kind is there..."