Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BillyBlog's Favorite Poems, #15 ("One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop)

Delusions of grandeur that I would be unveiling rare and unusual poems have fallen by the wayside. Chances are, if I have a favorite poem in the Top 15, it has been seen before by regular readers of poetry. It's not a cop-out. That's just the way it is.

"The art of losing isn't hard to master," the opening line of Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" is in itself one of the more brilliant lines in poetry (in my humble opinion). Bishop's fans may choose others as greater works, but I love this poem- its rhythms, its rhymes, and ultimately, its message. There is little more to say. If you click the poem link above, you'll be transported over to a blog called The Great American Pinup which offers some additional insight on this work.


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is not 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 homes 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 make look like (Write it!) a disaster.

More on Bishop here, along with some links to more poems.

Previous Favorite Poems for National Poetry Month:

#16 - "Buddhist Barbie" by Denise Duhamel
#17 - "One Train May Hide Another" by Kenneth Koch
#18 - "Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed!) by Frank O'Hara (with Audio)
#19 - "Crumbs" by Hal Sirowitz (Audio Added)
#20 - "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams
#21 - "They Feed They Lion" by Philip Levine
#22 - "Looking at Kilauea" by Garret Hongo
#23 - "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell (Audio Added)
#24 - A Handful of Richard Brautigan
#25 - "A Buddha in the Woodpile" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
#26 - "Separation" by W.S. Merwin
#27 - "The Flea" by John Donne
#28 - Poem Twenty from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
#29 - "Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder
#30 - "Eunoia" by Christian Bok

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