Without getting into too much detail, the important point to know is that the couple does not know me too well as I do not know them any more than my husband's kind friends. Not many people do know me really well as you may have suspected by my choice to stay anonymous even in this blog. I’m sure I will figure out in therapy possibly one day why I keep the walls so thick and high, but right now that fact is helpful to understand how amazed I was that this reading was spot on. Even my husband with his practical, scientific mind was staggered. What was said made me feel…for the best description I can summon-- flustered. I tried not to show it (reference a few sentence back to that wall). I think I smiled, maybe uttered a “wow” and confirmed its accuracy and we moved on. The reading noted my recent loss and its disaster.
So once again, my guest has arrived today for day three of the POETRY Celebration all on her own. I didn’t know she was even on the guest list but I am thrilled she is here.
Let’s give a warm welcome to One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. Get your greetings in quick before I whisk her away to a quiet corner of the room and tell her I know what you speak of now.
The speaker in Bishop’s structured 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) is building wall after wall, suggesting her readers practice the same restraint. The idea—the more you lose, the easier loss will be. Start small and build until you have no issues with losing: “some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.”
The problem comes when you try to live in this world removed from it all—unscathed by any loss:
“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.”
Denying yourself the grief of loss keeps you from truly living in this world. What kind of life would be lived if you allow yourself to removed so widely from the world? Without death, life would feel not as valuable. And like the speaker in One Art, we can only trick ourselves for so long into believing losing a loved on doesn’t feel like a shit a.ka. 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.
This may be one of my favorite ending stanzas (as of today). The curtain is raised, the deception is over. The truth has entered. The art of losing is actually an impossible thing to master.
You can read the poem in its entirety here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/one-art
While you do, I’m gonna keep our guests a little longer today. With her, I can let my guard down. She makes me feel kinda vulnerable.