“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.

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” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel.

“Breakfast Song” by Elizabeth Bishop (Reader Recommended)

My love, my saving grace,
your eyes are awfully blue.
I kiss your funny face,
your coffee-flavored mouth.
Last night I slept with you.
Today I love you so
how can I bear to go
(as soon I must, I know)
to bed with ugly death
in that cold, filthy place,
to sleep there without you,
without the easy breath
and nightlong, limblong warmth
I’ve grown accustomed to?
—Nobody wants to die;
tell me it is a lie!
But no, I know it’s true.
It’s just the common case;
there’s nothing one can do.
My love, my saving grace,
your eyes are awfully blue
early and instant blue.

 

“Breakfast Song” by Elizabeth Bishop, from Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

Reader Recommended: My heartfelt thanks to reader Usha S. who offered Bishop’s poem as a personal favorite. Usha was grateful for the Good News poem by Thich Nhat Hanh “especially after the last few days/weeks of horror around the world and the feeding of fear.” Usha was referring to the Paris bombings, but sadly, could be referring to any day as of late.

Poetry offers us a slant of light in a dark world. To quote Bukowski, “it may not be much light but / it beats the darkness.” Keep shining, Christy