one art by elizabeth bishop

I think poetry has lost an awful lot of its muscle because nobody knows any. Nobody has to memorize poetry. – Peter Davison

I read somewhere that poetry is designed to be read aloud. It’s meant to be given voice and maintains a close relationship with speaking and singing, not just for the eye and the mind. The sound and rhythm are important elements of the music of poetry. True enough, when I try silent reading versus reading aloud, the latter produces more impact, oftentimes pleasurable. The hints of emotions become vivid. Most importantly, it helps to understand and eventually memorize the words.

I cannot remember the last time I memorized a poem, even my own, except when rendered into a song, recorded and publicly performed. I wish to motivate myself and provide a long-term residence inside my brain for some poems worth memorizing beginning with a piece by Elizabeth Bishop. A villanelle understating her thoughts on loss. I believe the one art she’s referring to is the art of writing as presented in the parenthetical “(Write it)” as being therapeutic. Her blocked emotions, pent-up pain and buried anger released positively in six stanzas.

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 beloved 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!) a disaster.

2 Responses to “one art by elizabeth bishop”

  1. eunhyuk80

    Yes indeed, blocked emotions – though she tries to keep herself from getting bogged down by this sense of loss by telling herself that none of it is as disastrous as it seems, but her buried sadness is right there at the core. Love how she puts tiny insignificant losses right up next to huge ones in her mind (and in her poem). This poem’s so reflective.Thanks for sharing Clemen. Hugs.


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