Elizabeth Bishop

cantfindit

Elizabeth Bishop was born in 1911 in Worcester, Massachusetts and grew up there and in Nova Scotia. Her father died before she was a year old and her mother suffered seriously from mental illness; she was committed to an institution when Bishop was five. Raised first by her maternal grandparents in Nova Scotia, Bishop’s wealthy paternal grandparents eventually brought her to live in Massachusetts. During her lifetime Bishop was a respected yet somewhat obscure figure in the world of American literature. Since her death in 1979, however, her reputation has grown to the point that many critics, like Larry Rohter in the New York Times, have referred to her as “one of the most important American poets” of the 20th century. Bishop was a perfectionist who did not write prolifically, preferring instead to spend long periods of time polishing her work. She published only 101 poems during her lifetime.  Source

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.

Published:

1976

Length:

Regular

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

Themes:

Death & Loss

Poetic Form

Literary Devices:

Imperative

an instruction or a command

Repetition

a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times

Rhyme

correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry

Villanelle

a nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain