A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Thursday, 7 April 2016

One Art

End of the academic year, as far as teaching is concerned. As the end of the term was approaching and after a couple of excellent conferences and while one gets ready to keep on writing, I was looking for some fresh air, some good culture, in this "desert of reality". The problem is that I do not have that much time to devote to reading literature, and, on top of it, I had not undertaken something cultural for a while. A good friend was reading passages from Βιζυηνός' Το τελευταῖον τῆς ζωῆς μου ταξίδιον to me, and I was listening this marvellous story with curiosity, a familiar guest in the language I was brought up to consider as my own. But his lines were not music to my ears: such a burden, such an attempt to elaborate on the language, wear it earrings and necklaces, many more than what I could bear. And then...I encountered, in a kind of serendipity, some verses written by Elizabeth Bishop. This was the music I was looking for without knowing it: an utter simplicity, which has given up on adornments, of all kinds. Music to my ears, oxygen for my soul and the break I enjoyed, without leaving London ON...One can celebrate the unpretentious work on the language:

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.


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