One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop

This is one of my favorite poems, and while Elizabeth Bishop has fun with the French Villanelle form, I have a little fun at the expense of my Irish brother, Vincent. I enjoyed recording this reading and even have one really fantastic blooper reel that I might be willing to show to you (if you plead and beg nicely) as a result of the cat caterwauling in the background.

The text of the poem is printed there, just below my handsome face. Enjoy!

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.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Vincent says:

    I congratulate you my dear brother…your diction, although it took great effort on your part has improved to the point where one would not confuse you with one of those lovely Amish boys I tried to run over in years past!! As for the ad-libbing and additional word thrown in casually here and there, I find i do that too….but only with my own stuff 😉 There is a blooper version….oh come on we have to see that,,,I am sure that wonderful laugh of yours is in it too, and that is good medicine for anyone who hears it…xx

    The poem could be about anyone of us…lol….I can relate, and appreciate the sentiments…truely the art of losing isn’t hard to master…..but I practice it with increasing regularity…lol…infact there has been a piece in mind re keys and their travels/journeys and escapades!

    Thankyou for the text….and yes hun, you are very handsome…you are…;-) love you xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sonofwalt says:

    awww… thank you, Vince! But I thought it was only Amish girls you ran over, ones on bicycles particularly. I figured the boys were safe from your prowling. lol

    Yes, I will email you the blooper version but it’s like a minute and three quarters long, so skip by the first minute and listen for the cat wailing as it gets louder and louder before I blow up at the poor puss. lol He is doing this a lot during my readings lately.


  3. sonofwalt says:

    Oh, and I’m really glad you liked it. I really was tired and not in good form on that one Saturday. Lord I was so tired and trying to pull myself together, no wonder you thought I wanted to “hump” the moon. lol


  4. sonofwalt says:

    Oh, and this just sank in, did I get some words wrong? LOL oops… I sometimes feel like I know this one by heart, so I’ll have to listen while I read along and see where I flubbed. Hopefully I didn’t piss Elizabeth off! lol


  5. sonofwalt says:

    According to Novelist Reynolds Price, in his book The Promise of Rest, Elizabeth Bishop wrote this after she lost her long time companion Lota Sores to suicide.

    The poem itself is a re-imaging of the French Villanelle form. To observe how she altered the structure, here is a link to an article at about the details of the traditional form.


  6. Cris says:

    Very well read. I liked this one alot.


  7. sonofwalt says:

    Thank you, Chris! It’s much appreciated.


  8. Cris Martin (Piatt) says:

    You are welcome David 🙂


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