A Poem for a Thursday #23

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Elizabeth Bishop was born in 1911 in Worcester, Massachusetts (about 30 miles from me) and grew up there and in Novia Scotia. She was a respected poet in her lifetime but has come to more and more prominence in the years since her death. She only published 101 poems because she was a perfectionist and spent a long time refining each poem. Her poems are "marked by precise descriptions of the physical world and an air of poetic serenity, but her underlying themes include the struggle to find a sense of belonging, and the human experiences of grief and longing." Those themes come through clearly in the poem for today.

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. 

One Art 
Elizabeth Bishop

Visit Typings and Pastry & Purls for more poems.


  1. I <3 Elizabeth Bishop. Another excellent choice!

    1. I had trouble picking one of hers because I liked so many of them.

  2. Such a great poem! And also the Elizabeth Bishop I would have picked. Durn you! ;-)

    1. It is beautiful, isn't it? You used a Edna St. Vincent Millay poem! I love her.

  3. Ouch! That poem hurt.

    PS I also meant to thank you for introducing me to unsplash - their pics are gorgeous aren't they.

    1. Unsplash is a great source, isn't it? It is so useful when I write a post late at night and realize I have no photo and no time to worry about it.

  4. Oh that poem brings back happy memories of the American Literature module for my BA degree. It sounds so fresh and contemporary.