Wednesday, October 4, 2006

I don't care if you're sick of it, it's another poem

Some of you might recognise tonight's choice from the recent sibling story based on the brilliant Jennifer Wiener's 'In Her Shoes', where the awkwardly beautiful Cameron Diaz reads it to blind patient in a residential care home.

Elizabeth Bishop (pictured) was an amazing poet and much of her poetry was influenced by another of my favourites (scroll down if you want to read his Spring and Fall, or check the archives if it's already gone), Gerard Manley Hopkins. She had some hard times, as we all have, and perhaps more than her fair share of grief and loss. Elizabeth Bishop would often work many years on just one poem, labouring for a reading that sounds, perhaps because of her care, spontaneous and often flippant. This approach is one of the more powerful in poetry, I think, and reminds me too of the careful and deceptive jollity of war poets like Siegfried Sassoon, whose bouncy metre and casual verse both belies and emphasises the power of his message.

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.

Elizabeth Bishop

Don't worry, I won't be posting poems forever. Some nights, though, they speak more clearly than I do. And at least you don't have to read as much, so quit your noise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you might also want to read the other poem she quotes from in the same film,especially as its a poet whom Sarah recommended on Tuesday. So check out another of ee cummings works - i carry your heart