I Know This Much Is True

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


  1. I read your collaboration interview in The Southeast Review over the weekend. Good stuff! I liked the discussion about sonnets, long poems, and misheard phrases in particular.

  2. One of my students was so moved by this Bishop poem that she gave copies to her family and friends, and is known to quote it during conversations.

    I admit to thinking of it often, too...

  3. I almost posted this on my blog today before I saw you'd posted it.