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Friday, November 5, 2010

One Art

(Lark’s Wing, Encircled with Golden
Blue, Rejoins the Heart of the Poppy
Sleeping on a Diamond-Studded Meadow

by Joan Miró, 1893-1983, Spanish painter,
ceramist, and sculptor)

This poem is a villanelle, named after the Latin villa or country estate or farm. It is a lyric poetic form believed to have started as the round-songs of farm workers. The rhyme is set in lines one and three and then repeated in each three-line or tercet verse, until the last stanza, a quatrain with an added refrain line.


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!) like disaster.

~ Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), American poet

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