Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

with 3 comments

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.

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, “One Art”

Written by nevalalee

November 9, 2016 at 6:23 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. I love this villanelle, just taught it. But it doesn’t make this feel any better. I am thinking Dover Beach right now. “And we are here as on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight/Where ignorant armies clash by night.”


    November 9, 2016 at 6:37 am

  2. what a magician of words and wisdom!


    November 9, 2016 at 6:48 am

  3. @inglotpoems: I’ve been thinking of Auden’s “ironic points of light.”


    November 9, 2016 at 9:34 pm

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