June 17, 2002: ONE ART (Elizabeth Bishop)

Dear readers,

A lot of significant things happened to me when I spent a semester in
London. One of them was reading Elizabeth Bishop’s "One Art" on a placard
in a subway car. This poem has retained some meaning for me, as I do have
a horrible tendency to lose things, things of both material and
sentimental value. Is Bishop saying that when you become accustomed to
losing the small things, you grow to accept losing the larger things? Or
does she even believe what she’s writing?

But back to London, I also had a chance to nurture a friendship with
Bernadette Naval and create one with Kevin Sullivan, both of whom
celebrate their birthdays this month (17th and 14th, respectively and
respectfully). These friends I have been lucky enough NOT to lose!

Have a good week,

Matt

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.

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