Poems To Inspire During The Remaining Months Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

By the end of this pandemic, it’s almost certain that most of us will understand some semblance of the losses we’ve been forced to endure. Even those of us who haven’t directly felt the effect will have a friend or friend of a friend who lost a loved one or works in healthcare. Nursing homes have been entirely wiped out by COVID-19, their residents sent to the hospital to never return. While some of us will always deny the reality of what has happened, most of us get it. And we’re looking for a way to cope.

Well, poetry will always provide an outlet for those of us who need it the most. Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art” is a great reminder that life presents us a choice: allow pain to conquer all, or allow all to conquer pain. Granted, Bishop wrote this poem in the 70s while struggling with alcoholism, but the words are certainly as relevant as ever — especially since they begin with a list of things that can be lost. The bright side is this: some of us haven’t lost near to everything we have worth having, and we should cherish all left to us in this time of uncertainty.

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.