my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Loss

One Art

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.

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979.
 Copyright © 1979, 1983

I love the way these two poets present the universal experience of dealing with loss.
Neither melodramatic, but I think quite interesting in their approach.


Still Life with a Balloon

Wislawa Szymborska
Returning memories?
No, at the time of death
I’d like to see lost objects
return instead.

Avalanches of gloves,
coats, suitcases, umbrellas
come, and I’ll say at last:
what good’s all this?

Safety pins, two odd combs,
a paper rose, a knife,
some string — come, and I’ll say
at last: I haven’t missed you.

Please turn up, key, come out,
wherever you’ve been hiding,
in time for me to say
You’ve gotten rusty, friend!
Downpours of affidavits,
permits and questionnaires,
rain down and I will say:
I see the sun behind you.

My watch, dropped in a river,
bob up and let me seize you —
then, face to face, I’ll say:
Your so-called time is up.

And lastly, toy balloon
once kidnapped by the wind—
come home, and I will say:
there are no children here.

Fly out the open window
and into the wide world;
let someone else shout “Look!”
and I will cry.

2 comments:

marie-josé said...

I plan not to show Elizabeth Bishop's poem to Pierre. Otherwise, he's going to think he's a great artist.

The art of losing reminds me of something Joyce Sequiche Hifler said about the art of forgetting. In any case, two things we need to learn gracefully.

pkcyphert said...

Great! You have reminded me of a wonderful poem by Billy Collins on forgetfulness. I will post it next. He is hysterical. I will select several of his to post.