Tuesday, April 06, 2010

One Art

In Her Shoes is another movie in which poetry plays a significant role.

The main character (Maggie) reads aloud at the request of one of her nursing home patients.  He happens to be a blind retired professor of English literature.

Suffice it to say that this exercise empowers Maggie to pull her life together and reconcile with her family.

Of the three poems in the film, One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop is the one I went in search of last summer when I saw the movie: the one I wanted to remember for National Poetry Month in April.

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.
Read more about Elizabeth Bishop at the Poetry Foundation's website.

Some lines from E E Cummings i carry your heart with me and Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come were also featured in the movie.


  1. I've never read that one before. It reminds me of the Christina Rossetti I read this morning, "At Home," in which the dead narrator has returned to listen to her family's conversation. It's all Today and Tomorrow, and no Yesterday -- no mention of the lost person.

    So many of hers are sad like that.

  2. That is a poem that I just listened to last month, when I played a CD of Best American Read-Aloud Poetry compiled by a man born in England, John Derbyshire. It was one of my favorites heard on that recording.

    I'm glad you were able to make your comments box more compatible for my seemingly handicapped computer! Maybe it will result in even more comments than mine being added to the conversations. Thanks!

  3. I love how the professor has her explain with the poem means. I think he says, "A plus". He is such an encouragement to her.