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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

One Art (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 everyday. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing further, 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.

1 comment:

Tess said...

A villanelle, one of the most successful ones in the English language, or so many say. 19 lines broken into 5 tercets and 1 quatrain. The first and third lines of each tercet (and the first, third and fourth lines of the quatrain) have the same rhyme. The second line of each stanza shares a different rhyme. There are also two repeating lines throughout the poem at fixed points, which Bishop varies here.