Elizabeth Bishop (1911 – 1979)

From Wikipedia:

“Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and short-story writer. She was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1949 to 1950, the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956, the National Book Award winner in 1970, and the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976. Dwight Garner argued that she was perhaps “the most purely gifted poet of the 20th century.”

Reaching for the Moon (2013) is a Brazilian movie about Bishop’s life when she was living in Brazil with Lota de Macedo Soares. The Portuguese title of the film is Flores Raras.

Author Michael Sledge published the novel The More I Owe You, about Bishop and Soares, in 2010.

Bishop’s friendship with Robert Lowell was the subject of the play “Dear Elizabeth,” by Sarah Ruhl, which was first performed at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2012. The play was adapted from the two poets’ letters which were collected in the book Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.

Her requested epitaph, the last two lines from her poem “The Bight”—”All the untidy activity continues, / awful but cheerful”—was added, along with her inscription, to the family monument in 1997, on the occasion of the Elizabeth Bishop Conference and Poetry Festival in Worcester.”

From the poetry blog of Emily Ardagh:

‘ONE ART’ BY ELIZABETH BISHOP

“This is a beautifully crafted villanelle, and a fascinating illustration of a person’s internal struggle with denial over how much they have been affected by the loss of someone they love….

I love the final stanza because it is so self-aware…this final line. The “Write it!” part makes me think about how writing can be very therapeutic. The act of writing can make things more real and help us to accept them. Here, it seems that when the poet writes “Write it!” she is trying to convince herself to admit it — to admit that losing this person is a disaster for her.”

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 a disaster.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s