Thursday, August 30, 2007

Today's Poem - Thursday

Today's poem is a fun one. Elizabeth Bishop's One Art.

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.

I first read this poem in college as part of a fresh(person) year seminar called Poetry and Being, which as the name implies, was both enjoyable and pretentious. I always remembered this poem and then began remembering it all the more when it made the cut as one of the "Poems on the Underground' and I got to read it most days on my way to or from work when I lived in London. That was forever ago now - 1992.

Anyway, I remembered this poem all of a sudden today because I knocked a bowl off of the over-crowded drying rack and it rattled and shattered all over the ground. It was truly no biggity, but Magpie seemed really upset it had broken. I explained it was no big deal, I didn't care about the bowl, but she still seemed flustered by the whole thing. I then explained even if I did care about the bowl, it was still important to practice the art of losing, and I went and got my still-owned from fresh(person) poetry class Elizabeth Bishop anthology.

It took awhile to find the poem because I was looking up Art of Losing instead of One Art but being very patient, as all almost-4 and almost-2-year-olds are, I finally found it and they were ready to listen with apt ears - again as pretty much all toddlers are when promised the sweet sounds of New England poetesses.

And to my surprise, and delight, the girls actually did like the poem.

Magpie requested for me to read it about six times until moving on to other lofty pursuits like eating play doh off the kitchen floor. She seemed to especially like the "Write it!" part, as if she could understand Elizabeth's inner struggle here, and I felt as I do most days like she must be a very old soul, or at the very least the reincarnation of someone very spiritual. Like Ghandi. Or maybe Jim Morrison.

1 comment:

MannahattaMamma said...

What a GREAT idea. There is a book of poems about colors that my kids loved - and ee cummings is ALWAYS perfect. Try "anyone lived in a pretty how town," or the poem about the "goat-footed little balloon man whistling far and wee..." For a while I was reading to the kids from lots of different kinds of poetry but I stopped, not sure why...I'm going to start again. Thanks for the reminder.

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