Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle, “One Art,” begins, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” As we commenced reading it aloud then discussing it, I talked about the idea of “the art of” something—such as pizza, soccer, math—excelling in a particular skill or ability. But how can someone ‘master’ losing? Could that mean getting past it—not letting it stop us, not giving up? We looked at all the things the speaker loses in the poem: door keys, an hour “badly spent,” places, names, a mother’s watch, two rivers, a continent, etc., and wondered how each could be lost. The more we thought about it, the more sense it made. We also recognized how certain lines rhymed and phrases repeated, in whole or in part.
As the poem directs in its last line, “Write it!” so the students composed their own poems about loss.
Ms. Yim, 4th Grade
I Lost My Phone!
I lost my phone and my new game updated!
I need to find ittt my friends are trying
to call meeeee! They are going to play without
There’s all things you lose,
like driver’s licenses, cars,
keys, friends, parents. You can
lose yourself. You can lose
me. I lose my stuff every time I
get ready for something. I lose
track for that, it means losing
the time. I lost a bet, game,
my dog. You can lose anything.
I swear you’re not the only one.
I lost my Pokémon
and I lost my toy and
I lost my phone sometimes
and I forget stuff all
Losing at a game or losing a relative
it’s hard I know. The feelings (sad disappointment
shock anger sadness).
Losing an item like a phone the feeling will be
angry frustrated. Losing a relative.
The feeling will be sad confused.
Losing at a game.
The feeling at losing at a game.
Confused angry. Disappointment.
I am an elite at losing
I lost my burrito in my car.
We can lose family. Our
parents by any way. We
would be really sad because
they would take care
of us when we were
babies and kids.