‘One art’ by Elizabeth Bishop

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.

Some of you, and I think this will be particularly girls, will recognize this poem.
Even more will recognize it when I say where they know it from.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old I got the DVD from the movie ‘In Her Shoes’. The movie is about two sisters who lost their mother when they were young. For the ones who have seen the movie, this is the poem that Maddie reads together with the old man.

Back then I wasn’t really thinking about the meaning of the poem because, well, I was 10 years old.
But recently I was thinking about this poem again when, ironically enough, lost my keys. I tend to do this quite often, and not only with my keys. I have this problem with everything that can fit in my pocket. Well, maybe with some other objects to.

By thinking about this poem I realised that it sucks to lose keys, but not a total disaster, which is how I reacted almost everytime I lost them. I think it is also better for my health and stresslevel that I don’t freak out everytime I lose something.

However, I think the deeper meaning of this poem is about losing people. That it should not be difficult to lose somebody while everybody knows that it is extremely hard to lose a person you love. It first looks like it’s a disaster but after all it is not.
I am not very good at analysing but this was what I took out of it.

I hope you like or appreciate this poem as much as I do!

4 thoughts on “‘One art’ by Elizabeth Bishop

  1. Hi, it’s a sweet poem indeed:) if you like this, you might also enjoy reading ‘Dust if you must’, which is one of my favourites.

  2. Pingback: [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] – e.e. Cummings | Adopt a sloth!

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