Sunday Contemplation — Finding Wisdom — Elizabeth Bishop Edition

Late contemplation today due to the flu.  I am in that stage of life where this poem, which I first came upon as a young man, has changed in meaning.  I find this with most art.  Works of fiction, particularly those of Dickens and Twain, which were required readings in my youth have somehow changed in my mind’s eye from the manner that I first viewed them, now that I am past the midpoint of life.  Walt Whitman, from whom all modern American poetry springs, as with Mark Twain, from whom all modern American literature springs, almost occupied this space today.  But then my mind kept coming back to this poem.  Mr. Whitman (and no doubt Mr. Clemens) will need to visit us another day.  Here then is 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.

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