Monday, May 3, 2010

One Art

Do you have a favorite poem?  What is it?  Can you recite it from memory?  What comes to mind when you read it?  This has been my favorite poem for a very long time... For some reason I found myself repeating this today over and over.  I lost a friend my own choosing.  This seems so appropriate.  

One Art

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

1 comment:

Jon Diener said...


Interesting poem. It opens up so many possible interpretations.

The only poem that I can still remember by heart was from a project in high school. In my Music Theory class, we had to find a short poem that we liked, then write music to it - melody, accompaniment, etc. (all fully written out). the poem seems especially appropriate lately with the loss of my father-in-law and my 12 yr. old English Cocker Spaniel, Oreo.

Here goes:

Death Is a Door

Death is only an old door,
Set in a garden wall.
On quiet hinges it gives, at dusk,
When the thrushes call.
Along the lintel are green leaves,
Beyond the light lies still.
Very weary and willing feet,
Go over that sill.
There is nothing to trouble any heart,
Nothing to hurt at all.
Death is only an old door,
In a garden wall.

-Nancy Byrd Turner

(OK, I confess. I had to Google a couple lines for exact wording. But for the most part, it has stuck with me for the last 35 years.)