Thursday, April 20, 2006

Early night

Tonight as I was returning from the law school to take out my dry contacts and put on glasses so I could finish reading Property, a fellow student saw me on the sidewalk and greeted me. "Early night for you, eh?" he said. It was nine o'clock. I laughed and made some mindless reply, but the comment followed me home. There have not been many nights lately I have been seen on that sidewalk on the good side of midnight. So when I got home, I placed my Property book on my desk and I read poetry. Here is a villanelle I have loved since I first read it a few years ago.

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

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