Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thoughts on Medusa

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 beloved 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!) a disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop
(1911 - 1979 / Massachusetts / United States)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; In 1976, She became both the first American and the first woman to win the Books Abroad/Neustadt Prize for Literature.

[The picture above is of the pediment of a temple found on Corfu. It's the only one of its kind and was dedicated to Medusa. I love this poem by Bishop and they just sort of came together in my thoughts this afternoon. It's found in the Archaeological Museum in Corfu town, Her myth: Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," priestess in Athena's temple, but when she was raped by the "Lord of the Sea" Poseidon in Athena's temple, the enraged goddess transformed her beautiful hair to serpents and she made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn a man to stone.]


  1. Thank you for the lovely Bishop poem. Perfect.

  2. You're welcome! (sorry it took me a couple of days to find your message!)

    I love this poem and so it was in my head when I came across the background on our resident temple goddess.



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