One Art – Elizabeth Bishop

June 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

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 beloved 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 a disaster.

From ‘101 Poems That Could Save Your Life’, D. Goodwin (ed), 2003.

As one who has lost everything many times over (including recently) – I can fully relate to the momentary paralysis felt – when [wrongly] thinking that whatever you have lost ‘defined’ you. I have also felt the undiluted liberation upon realising that what in fact defines you is the fortitude, strength, courage and perseverance employed in the midst of such difficulties. There’s great hope in acknowledging that tomorrow is a new day – and that it’s possible to return even stronger.


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