Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

August 6, 2022
by jenniferpuryear

The Art of Losing Isn’t Hard to Master

This Sunday finds me in Atlanta helping a daughter move into a new apartment. Unpacking yesterday, she couldn’t find an Important pair of black jeans. Her favorite pair. It’s kind of a disaster! (They’ll turn up, of course; surely they will.)

Her loss – and some of my own – brought to mind this half-remembered poem by Elizabeth Bishop…

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is not 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.


Rose of Sharon

July 30, 2022
by jenniferpuryear


What do you yearn for?

Here’s a little poem by Louise Glück that made me think twice…


Suddenly, after you die, those friends
who never agreed about anything
agree about your character.
they’re like a houseful of singers rehearsing
the same score:
you were just, you were kind, you lived a fortunate life.
No harmony. No counterpoint. Except
they’re not performances;
real tears are shed.

Luckily, you’re dead; otherwise
you’d be overcome with revulsion.
but when that’s passed,
when the guests begin filing out, wiping their eyes
because, after a day like this,
shut in with orthodoxy,
the sun’s amazingly bright,
though it’s late afternoon, September –
when the exodus begins,
that’s when you’d feel
pangs of envy.

Your friends the living embrace one another,
gossip a little on the sidewalk
as the sun sinks, and the evening breeze
ruffles the women’s shawls –
this, this, is the meaning of
“a fortunate life”: it means
to exist in the present.


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From the beautiful collection: