Monday, February 5, 2024

The Art of Losing

Elizabeth Bishop (1964)

Speaking another tongue is like moving. You've lived for years in one place and all of a sudden you're uprooted, finding yourself in a new neighborhood or city--whose inhabitants are strangers. "Guten Morgan Frau Schmidt" is not the same as "Good Morning Mrs Schmidt" or Smith. "Ich geht nach die heimat zu" is a far cry from "I'm going home" which is the literal translation. The German words say so much more. Take the first line of Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art:" "The art of losing isn't hard to master..." In French it's "L'art de perdre n'est pas difficult a maitre..." In Italian: "Dell'arte di perdere si e facile maistri." Compare "the art of losing" to 'L'arte de perdre" and "perdre" to "perdere." "Perdre" is far more deliquescient than either "perdere" which holds you up with a suffix or "losing" which is too gutteral and in your face. Loss doesn't occur "tout d'un coup." It involves "le temps perdu" peut-etre and a rush of well-earned melancholia which "perdre" unleashes with Racinian "eclat." "Eine Kunst" is the title of Bishop's poem In German and the first line goes like this: Die Kunst des Vierlierens is nicht schwer zu meistern. 

read "Ovid" by Francis Levy TheScreamingPope

and also read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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