One Art By Elizabeth Bishop: How The Author Uses Perspectives And Syntax
Loosing anything is seemingly disastrous. Modern poet Elizabeth Bishop uses syntax and perspectivism in “One Art” to portray an accepting and discontented tone towards loss to convey that there are some feelings of deprivation that are just unconquerable.
Throughout the whole poem, Bishop utilizes and a and b rhyme scheme except in her fourth and sixth stanza. Both of these pattern breaking stanzas have personal instances and thoughts. This strategy helps Bishop create her false sense of acceptance between lines 1-15. She assures the audience that everything will be fine if we “accept the fluster” as this will vanquish our feelings of loss. Unfortunately, in her fourth stanza she is reluctantly making a negative shift in her tone. With a simple “And look!” readers are able to notice the listed experiences becoming more personal for Bishop. However, her honest stance does not become completely apparent until the sixth stanza where Bishop vacillates into her true feelings. From lines 16-19 not only is there a entirely different rhyme scheme, but it is a quatrain unlike the preceding tercets. This effect makes this stanza conspicuous and is practically telling us that this is the truth and that this disgruntlement is her true emotion towards this subject. Bishop reveals that she “shan’t have lied” not only to the reader but to herself as well. She does still try to continue her charade by forcing herself to “Write it!” Which inevitably reveals her own inability to cope with loss. She eventually alters her diction as well to correspond with her honest attitude by saying “The art of losing isn’t too hard to master” instead of the consistent “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” Bishop reveals that despite what she stated earlier this action is in fact not “too hard”, but nonetheless extremely difficult to accomplish.
Bishop takes advantage of the perspectivism in the poem to, in a way, demand the readers to abide the loss. She urges her audience to “Lose something everyday” in order to convince us that a loss isn’t the worst misfortune that could happen. However this command is overly optimistic and full of false hopes. What sane person would lose something repeatedly and deliberately just to overcome that negative feeling? Her misguidance hints at a misleading attitude of acceptance. As Bishop shifts from a second to first perspective, her losses consistently become larger and less general. She’s wavering about her original opinion as she is actually writing these events, because, gradually, she realizes that she hasn’t overcame her losses herself. When Bishop jots down her, probably most catastrophic, loss “losing you”, she almost ultimately breaks down from her argument and forces herself to finish this poem of untrue feelings.
No matter how one may phrases it, loss is a terrible tragedy. Even though that was not her original intention, Bishop concluded with this theme. Nothing is as easy as it seems.
Elizabeth Bishop’s Poem One Art: Accepting Loss
The poem “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop portrays the hidden feelings of an individual who has lost several things that have been significant to her; however, she overcomes the obstacles, and learns to move on. The poem consists of six stanzas with three lines in each stanza. It begins with confidence and determines people to let go and move on. Moreover, “One Art,” mirrors a rhyme scheme. The first, third, and fifth stanza show the rhyme scheme. In each of these stanzas, there is a word rhyming with disaster. In the first stanza, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master…to be lost that their loss is no disaster, (One Art, Elizabeth Bishop (1)” reveal the rhyme scheme between “master” and “disaster”. On the other hand, stanza two shows a perfect rhyme.
Elizabeth Bishop, in “One Art,” encourages the reader to understand that not everything stays forever, but instead, cope with the loss and make the best of it for as long as you have it for. Occasionally you’ll lose the little things such as “keys” (5) and sometimes much more important things such as a loved one or a “house” (11). She explains, no matter what you lose, live in the future instead of mourning over the loss, you need to overcome it. Losing an important possession is just a part of your life so accept it. Elizabeth Bishop writes this poem describing her losses and persuading the readers to get used to the idea of losing things that may or may not be important to them and to accept the fact that some things just are not meant to be. However, by the end of the poem, where the poet states, “Even losing you (the joking voice…), I shan’t have lied (16-17),” reflects that the poet is trying to convince herself that she has overcome the loss, even though it mirrors that she still grieves her loss. As a result, the message of coping with the loss and accepting it is significant for the speaker as well as the reader.
The poem begins with the less important things the poet has lost in stanza 2, “…lost door keys, the hour badly spent (5).” As the poem goes on, each stanza begins to have more meaningful belongings that the poet has incurred loss in. In stanza 3, Elizabeth talks about losing “places, names, and where it was you mean to travel (7)”. The speaker here begins to speak about the little things that matter to people, such as writing names, phone numbers down or our wishes of traveling the world. Without writing these things down, we are bound to forget. However, by the end of the poem, the last three stanzas are more personal and depict loss of much more value. As the poem goes on, the loss becomes more of a disaster. “I lost two cities…two rivers, a continent…Even losing you…” Disaster progresses throughout the poem and eventually adds up to a great catastrophe. The poet begins with a relentless tone urging the readers to get used to misplacing and losing. As the poem goes on, the speaker reveals her losses and how she has gotten over them. She says, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master (1).” At the beginning of the poem it seems as if she’s convincing readers that loss is an everyday thing, however, by the end, it changes. Stanzas 4 onwards begin to depict the more personal losses. “Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture i love) i shan’t have lied (16-17).” This illustrates that the speaker herself has not overcome the bigger losses, and is trying to convince herself to “master the loss” of her loved one. As a result, the attitude of the speaker changes throughout the poem. From urging the reader to overcome loss, by the end, she herself is not fully convinced that overcoming loss is an easy thing to do.
“One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop, convinces readers to accept loss. On our everyday lives, there are many things on our minds and we lose things each day. “Accepting the fluster” will allow you to overcome the bigger and more important things in life such as losing a loved one or anything important. The poem also expresses that although the speaker is trying to persuade the audience, she herself is still trying to cope with the loss of her personal, more important things. “Mastering the loss” will allow us to overcome our losses on an everyday basis. No matter how difficult it looks, eventually you’ll conquer it.
A Study Of The Attitude In Elizabeth Bishop’s Poem One Art
In “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop an attitude is expressed in the first 15 lines that emphasizes the effect of the last 4 lines. The overall attitude can be best described as pessimistic. She shows this pessimism by writing in a loose villanelle form. Language also contributes to the overall attitude of this poem. These two techniques help contribute to a reader’s understanding of the attitudes expressed.
By writing this poem in a villanelle form Elizabeth Bishop emphasizes her optimistic, happy go lucky views in the first 15 lines. She repeats the lines “losing isn’t hard to master” and roughly “was not a disaster” in lines 1,3,6,9,12,18 and 19. This repetition strengthens her point and allows her to talk optimistically at first, then turn her own words around in the last stanza which overall drives the point home. It allows emphasis on the main idea that while losing things is easy to do, it can end up ruining you. Lines 1-15 flow easily and can be described as most optimistic, however it takes a turn for the opposite when Bishop must force herself to “write it”. Her views that losing things will not ruin you becomes forced.
Language contributes a deeper understanding of the poem as well. Bishop’s words have been carefully chosen to emphasis the initial optimism she feels, and ultimately her real opinions on the subject. In lines 1-6 she deliberately chooses things that would be trivial to lose such as keys and then progresses on to things that would be much more influential and intimidating to lose such as heirlooms and moving to a new city. She does not express it as having the ability to cripple her. From lines 13-15, she describes what many of us would find devastating, moving far away from home. Yet she is still not considering it a disaster. Using these examples of things that people would find upsetting strengthens the contrast that appears in the last stanza when something that is all too familiar to us and is universally hurtful is described. She is struggling over her own hurt and must force herself to write that it is not hurtful to her in either to reassure her.
An extended metaphor is used to describe losing things as being like an art form or a skill that is learned. As one “practices losing farther, losing faster” they begin to lose more and more valuable things in their life. These losses will not end your life, but they can be extremely hurtful and may spell out chaos and disaster which threatens your wellbeing.
The verse form in which it is written emphasizes the most important lines, with repetition the ideas are repeated to gather momentum. This strengthens her attitude and feelings on the subject. A careful choice of words and placement of ideas brings in contrast to the poem. Optimism can be found in unusual circumstances and while life’s setbacks don’t necessarily spell out disaster, there’s often an untold story that does hurt us deep down.
Loss in the Poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
One Art consists of 6 stanzas in total. The first 5 stanzas exist in 3 line forms and are rhymed aba, while the last stanza is four lines and is rhymed abab. The repetition of the words “master” and “disaster” are used as a running theme throughout the poem to emphasize to the reader the importance of these words as they pertain to the rest of the poem. Bishop uses simple yet artistic language throughout the poem by utilizing end rhymes.
Bishop opens up the first stanza by stating in the first stanza that losing objects is not very difficult to do. It is not art that needs to be perfected and that certain things are inevitable to being lost. The first 2 stanzas draw on the idea that losing small objects does not seem to be an issue, it is something that the reader usually experiences on a day to day basis. The objects that are meant to be lost are not worth pondering upon as if it is their job to be lost.
Bishop switches the focus from the first 3 stanzas from having objects that we usually lose and unto requiring whomever she is speaking to to practice losing things. Bishop is asking the reader to practice losing in order to make things seem easier to lose later on. She starts by asking the reader to practice losing things that are kept in our minds like names and places as if preparing us for the loss of someone/something that is bigger.
She goes on in the fourth stanza to explain that she had lost her mothers watch, an item that perhaps symbolizes the lost time that she could have had with her mother.
From stanza 1 to stanza 5, the objects that Bishop loses seem to be getting bigger and are of greater value to her. It seems as though she had endured a lot of loses and that she valued the time she did get to spend in the places she loved with her loved ones.
From the beginning of the poem, it seemed as though Bishop was directing this poem to someone other than herself. However, as the reader nears the end of the poem they discover that Bishop was not talking to someone else but rather talking to herself, trying to convince herself that although losing objects is not a disaster but losing loved ones; people who are important to us is very painful and is truly a disaster. Despite the fact that we are bound to lose things we will always have a memory or recollection in our mind of the times we had with them.
The Author’s Attitude in One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
The author, Elizabeth Bishop, wrote a poem titled “ One Art” which took place 1927, in Boston. In the story, the main character, Elizabeth Bishop, talks about and describes the feeling of losing things. In this poem Bishop talked about what she has lost and how losing those things made her feel. The author tried to catch the reader’s attention by using such a rhyme (ABAB) to keep the reader interested throughout the poem, repetition. Bishop even uses exclamation points to show strong emotion towards the topic she was writing about or to show more force. How was all of these things used as the author’s attitude changed?
To begin with, the author starts off by saying “ the art of losing isn’t hard to master”, what the author was basically saying is losing is not something that is hard to do or something that is hard to get into. Then backs up her point by saying losing something is not anything to cry over, it’s especially not a disaster. She continues on as she says “lose something every day” so she has now accepted it and she is used to it by now. As she begins to name all the things she can think of that a person could lose, she still does not see how that can really cause “disaster”. But as she continues to think it sparks something in her thoughts, it is some of the things she has lost.
Obviously, the author’s thoughts starts to roam to the things she has lost in her lifetime, which causes her to mention the time she lost her mother’s watch. Losing her mother’s watch did not seem to affect her or cause disaster in her household so that is her point one. Her attitude at this point in the poem is somewhat nonchalant, the author makes it seem like losing something is just another everyday thing in her daily life. The author basically says losing something is not worth causing disaster over, disaster will not happen if something so small is lost, such as her mother’s watch. As she feels losing is something that is natural and that can’t be helped.
Lastly, the author finally opens up to the reader about something that was more close to her heart that she lost. Her cities is what she lost, to her it was more than just cities, they were of great size and quantity. She has now started to show more emotion to losing something than it just being an everyday thing, being bound to happen. The author shows a great amount of emotion, she even says she misses them. But even that is still not enough to be considered a disaster to the author. Her attitude has slightly changed to where she is willing to talk about her losses but still does not see them as a disaster.
To sum up my thoughts, reading this poem and seeing how the author’s attitude changed a slight bit, getting more in depth to it I see the author’s pont. Throughout the whole poem the author’s attitude stayed the same until she opened up about the cities she had lost, which caused her to get emotional. The author’s point of the poem was that losing something can happen in the blank of an eye, it’s just that easy. Though it may look like it is a disaster at the time is happened it never really is. All because losing something is bound to happen anytime, any place and any day.
Imagery and Meaning in One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
Bishop uses imagery throughout her poem using a 6-line stanza. The first 5 stanzas exist in 3 line forms and are rhymed aba, while the last stanza is four lines and is rhymed abab. Bishop uses rhyme schemes to portray the meaning behind her words. The use of rhythmic pattern is done through using words such as “master”, “disaster” or “fluster”. The repetition of the words is used as a stylistic choice throughout the poem to emphasize to the reader the importance of these words as they pertain to the rest of the poem.
One Art draws upon the idea of missing things that are meant to be lost as a way of showing control in difficult situations.
Bishop opens up the first stanza by stating that losing objects is not very difficult to do. Art can be imperfect and losing material objects is inevitable. The first 2 stanzas draw on the idea that losing things is not a concern and is a daily experience. The objects that are lost for the purpose of being lost are not worth pondering upon as if they were never really needed or are meant to be lost.
The poem continues and brings up another running theme between time and disaster as though it is a race and asks a question of when is the loss of a loved one expected.
Bishop shifts focus in the latter three stanzas as she goes from talking about losing objects to trying to get the reader to practice losing things. Bishop is requiring this request in order to perhaps make things seem easier to lose later on and will not feel like a disaster. She starts by asking the reader to practice losing things that are kept in the mind like names and places as if preparing us for the loss of someone or something that is bigger. She draws on the irony that art is imperfect but as time goes on and with practice it becomes better.
She goes on in the fourth stanza to explain that she had lost her mothers watch, three houses and a beloved city, perhaps these items symbolize the lost time that she could have had with her mother and the memories that will continue to live in her mind. Now the idea of losing has become a bigger more abstract thing than when we started in the first stanza.
From stanza 1 to stanza 5, the objects that Bishop loses seem to be getting bigger and are of greater value to her. It seems as though she had endured many loses and that she valued the time she did get to spend in the places she loved with her loved ones.
In the last stanza it seems as though the race has finally ended with the final loss. Bishop struggles to write it, the inevitable loss of a loved one has happened and it brings up feelings of damage inside of her that make her seem to have lost all control.
From the beginning of the poem, it seemed as though Bishop was addressing this poem to someone else. However, by the end of the poem it becomes clear that Bishop is not talking to someone else but rather talking to herself, trying to convince herself that although losing objects is not a disaster, losing loved ones is very painful and is the true disaster. Despite the fact that we are bound to lose things and people, we will always have a memory or a recollection in our mind of the times we had with them.
Bishop uses simple, poetic language to convey many different themes in this poem. The theme of loss and pain and how although it is inevitable it will always be agonizing and will affect us in more ways that we can imagine. The way Bishop writes this poem is very much related to her lived experiences and although this is how she felt going through a loss, it will relate to the readers in the sense that we have all lost someone or something that we cared so deeply about. Bishop uses rhythmic form throughout the poem in order to express the conflicts she’s had throughout her life with grief and learning how to deal with it. Bishop takes the reader on a poetic journey as they go through each stanza, it is like a rollercoaster of emotions as they experience with her the losses that they have encountered. It signifies the importance of the journeys that Bishop as well as the readers have endured.
The Art of Loss in One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
Throughout our lives, day in and day out, we seem to lose something. The idea of losing material things or loved ones is an idea that we try to avoid thinking of. How we recover from these losses is what defines who we are. In her poem One Art Elizabeth Bishop uses writing strategies such as comparisons, rhyme schemes, and repetition to attempt to convince readers and herself that the art of loss is not hard to master, although it might be.
At the beginning of her poem, Bishop writes, “so many things are filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster” (Bishop 2-3). By writing this, the poet shows readers what her state-of-mind on losing things is. As the second stanza progresses, she mentions the loss of keys which seems insignificant, yet she encourages people to accept losing them. She encourages people to accept their loss and also the time we lose in trying to find the keys. Although the loss of keys is minor, by using this example, Bishop delivers the idea that even when we lose something so small, we also lose time. With that said, we should accept it, it is no disaster.
In addition, the poet continues to use a tone of sarcasm and irony throughout the the third stanza. When she adds “Then practice losing farther, losing faster” (Bishop 7), it seems as if Bishop is using words such as “practice” to give the idea that this is a craft to practice. This example is a form or irony because nobody wants to practice or master “loss”.
Throughout the fourth stanza, Bishop mentions how she lost her mother’s watch. The watch can represent a material memory that she had of her mother, but in deeper meaning could convey a meaning of the time she lost with her mother and their relationship. “The emphasis is on time, specifically family time, with the mother’s watch being lost, surely symbolic of a profound personal experience for the poet” (Spacey 1). The previous example furthers the interpretation that the watch signifies material, but also a memory of the time the author wishes she had with her mother. To add on, in the same stanza, Bishop states “And look!” (Bishop 10-11) to inform that she is still doing fine as she has accepted that loss.
Also, in the fifth stanza, Bishop continues to increase the emotional value of each thing she continues to list. Now, she writes, “I lost two cities, lovely ones” (Bishop 13) that could have different meanings. It seems that the poet is referring to having to move from a location in which she had many wonderful memories or perhaps somewhere she loved going but could no longer return. The hyperbole, “and, vaster, some realms I owned, two rives, a continent” (Bishop 13-14) continues to buildup the feeling of deep meaning as it is impossible she owned two rivers and an entire continent.
Finally, in the sixth stanza, the poet reveals the biggest loss of them all, her love. The buildup to finally get to this point seems that it was not only to help readers understand, but also to convince herself. The poet wrote from very small daily objects to memorable objects to then places where she lived. In doing so, it is as if she tries to convince herself that although she has lost all of these, she is still alive and smiling. The final stanza reveals a lot through small detail. The line “the art of losing’s not too hard to master” (Bishop 18) is where she attempts to convince herself and the readers that this is not too hard to do. By using the word “too” she changes from every other line where she would state “the art of losing is not hard to master.” It seems as if now she knows that the art of losing is actually harder to master than she believed at the beginning of writing this poem. “Write it! (like disaster)” (Bishop 19) is where she finally decides that she can feel free to express herself and no longer have to convince herself that losing is something no wants to become good at.
In conclusion, the poet builds an incredible poem where she gives readers the opportunity to put themselves in the position of losing such insignificant objects to then losing a lover. She also builds up her revelation by repeating lines that ultimately lead to ever her questioning if maybe she has trouble believing that the art of loss is not hard to master. Towards the end, it looks like Bishop finally realizes that the art of losing is one she does not want to master nor keep experiencing.
- Spacey, Andrew. Analysis of Poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. Owlcation, Owlcation, 25 Jan. 2017, owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-One-Art-by-Elizabeth-Bishop.
- Whisnant, Luke. One Art Sample. Sharon Nassef: Poetry Essay, core.ecu.edu/engl/whisnantl/3410/sharon.htm.
- Bishop, Elizabeth. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47536/one-art.
Sadness in the Poems of Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop
Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop are famous American poets. Both poets are lonely: They lose their fathers at a very young age; Sylvia’s husband betrays her, and Elizabeth’s lover commits a suicide. “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop share a common theme: Longing for the deceased loved ones. Some readers may insist that the authors show indifferent or even hostile attitudes toward the “you” they talk to. However, they are indeed self-deceiving by hiding their actual loving emotions because they both show contradictory psychology, which ultimately reveals their longings for the “you” to come back.
Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” vividly illustrates her feelings about the death of her farther －a devastating nightmare, which is the start of her despairing and miserable lives. Sylvia uses metaphor, considering her father’s death a “black shoe”, and herself “a foot” that lives in the “black shoe” (2-3). The word, “black” is easily linked to funeral, so it illustrates the sorrow of Sylvia. The poet is “poor and white” because she, as a “foot”, is trapped under the “black shoe” for “thirty years” (4): She dwells so much in the sorrowful shadow of her father’s death that she could not enjoy brightness things in her lives anymore. Sylvia does not dare “to breathe or Achoo” (5), which describes her experience of growing up. Breathing and Sneezing are necessary human behaviors, which can be considered representations of the poet’s needs and willingness. However, without her father’s protection, she becomes too insecure to even show her needs and willingness. The poet also uses imagery to show her sufferings of losing her father. The poet writes, “I began to talk like a Jew. / I think I may well be a Jew” and “I may be a bit of a Jew” (34-35,40). Sylvia thinks that “every German” who speaks “obscene” words is her father (29-30). Sylvia analogies her pain of losing her father to the cruel massacre of Jews by Nazis during World War II. She writes, “an engine, an engine/ Chuffing me off like a Jew. / A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen” (31-33). Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen are three concentration camps where a significant amount of Jews are imprisoned, enslaved tortured, and being used to test biochemical weapons. Sylvia uses vivid imagery to present the scene as if her father, the Nazi, is driving the truck that takes her, the Jew, to the horrific camp. This imaginary scene implies the poet’s believes that her father’s death marks as the beginning of her tragic, hopeless, and dark lives.
Although the poet seemingly wants to accuse her father for abandoning her, her ambivalence implies her true thoughts: She misses her father, and wishes he were still alive. When Sylvia writes, “Daddy, I have had to kill you” (6), it seems that she really hates her father. However, the following symbols reveal her contradictory attitudes towards her father. She writes, “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, / Ghastly statue with one gray toe/ Big as a Frisco seal” (8-10). These lines portray Sylvia’s father in her memory－ a man who is tall and strong, and can make his daughter feel safe. Thus, these symbols implicitly show her love and longings for her father. According to the line, “I used to pray to recover you” (14), it is perceivable that she wishes her father were still alive. Another evidence of her ambivalent attitude is reflected when she says, “…I tried to die/ And get back, back, back to you. / I thought even the bones would do” (58-60). “Back, back, back” is a repetition, and “even the bones would do” is an exaggeration. These poetic devices help strongly present Sylvia’s longings for her father to come back. Although some may feel that these lines seem dramatically contradict to previous lines where she wants to kill her father. However, such contradictory feelings actually explain to the readers that she doesn’t truly want to kill her father; instead, she wants her father to come back. When she was little, she prays for her father to recovery. But after she becomes an adult, she understands that dead person is gone forever, so she decides to kill herself just so she can be with her father again. Thus, it is reliable that her blames and curses for her father are just her self-deceits to lessen her pain of him, which in results reflects her actual loves and longings for him.
Similarly, in “One Art”, Elizabeth Bishop tries to deny her actual feelings by admonishing both herself and the readers that losing is not a disaster. Elizabeth starts with minor things that everyone might deal with everyday, such as “door keys”, and “the hour badly spent”. It is easy to convince the readers that losing those things will not bring horrible outcomes. She then gradually moves to more valuable items, such as “[her] mother’s watch”, “three-loved houses”, “some realms [she] owned” (5, 10-11, 14). Since she has been repetitively saying that losing minor objects will not bring disaster, it is easier for the readers to also believe that losing these more valuable items is also acceptable. In addition, she uses parallelism in which she writes, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master” for three times (1, 6, 12), which can strengthen her tone and makes her arguments more convincible.
However, in the last stanza where the poet talks about “you”, her attitude suddenly become hesitating, which implies that losing “you” is indeed a disaster even though the poet refuses to admit. Elizabeth writes, “—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture/ I love)” (16-17). The word, “even” and the fact that all items in previous lines are listed in an order with increasing value expose that “you” values most in the poet’s heart. Using “—” reveals the poet’s hesitation, which implies that it is indeed a disaster to lose “you”. The poet adds details explanation in the parenthesis after “you”, which shows that Elizabeth’s memory about “you” is still clear and vivid. In addition, the poet writes, “the art of losing’s not too hard to master” (18), which is slightly different from her previous stanzas. This extra word, “too”, precisely exposes the contradictory psychology of Elizabeth: She actually feels hard to master losing “you”, but she doesn’t want to admit. Therefore, Elizabeth’s true feeling is that she misses “you” so much. Even though she is trying to deceive herself and hide her true emotion, the way she writes the poem reveals her longings for “you” to come back.
In sum, in Daddy and One art, both poets have ambivalent emotion. On the one side, they hate or do not care the person, but actually Elizabeth and Sylvia miss the person who they loved very much. However, the dead cannot be brought back in the life. People have to move on eventually.
Art of Losing in One Art Poem
“One Art” is an interesting poem by Elizabeth Bishop. From the poem, one can see to paradoxes of a breaking heart. The poet wants to tell herself anything to make the situation better but nothing will. She invites pretty, innocent little lies to tell herself so she will pretend to smile again.
Bishop starts the poem by introducing a motif which she will repeat several times. “The art of losing is not hard to master.” The poet tells herself everyone loses things all of the time. It is not hard to lose track of things and forget about them. She started with small objects like keys to the door. The she introduces larger things: places, names, plans. Then Bishop talks about more important things like her mother’s watch. She lost houses, cities, realms, rivers, and entire continents. Finally she says even losing someone she loved was not hard or a disaster. In truth, this motif is a ridiculous lie because losing things is often a disaster and does matter yet a hurting person will believe anything if it will ease the hurt.
In the poem, I believe Bishop does not really believe what she says. She is very sarcastic or trying to convince herself everything will be okay. This poem is Bishop’s response to losing a loved one with a joking voice and a gesture she loved. Someone tried to comfort her by saying it was not a disaster. Bishop ,hurting and angry, replied sarcastically saying yes, “the art of losing is not hard to master”. I lose my keys all of the time and the world has not ended yet so losing other thing must not be a big deal. Losing names, places, my mother’s prized watch, even a beautiful house- these do not matter at all!!! Losing a whole city or even an entire continent would not bring disaster either so even losing this person is not a tragedy. From the hint of anger in this poem, I believe Bishop may be trying to show the ludicrousness of “the art of losing is not hard not master”, by taking the idea to its implications.
Bishop also may be trying to comfort herself by coming to believe “the art of losing is not hard to master”. She repeats the phrase as if repetition will help her remember and be convinced of it. Also in the last line, Bishop writes “(Write it!)” as if she has to force herself to put the last words on paper because she is so filled with emotion and does not really believe what she writes but must write it because if she writes this lie enough it will become true and ease her pain.
Main Themes in One Art
‘One art’ by Elizabeth Bishop
‘One art’ is a poem that explores the way people get accustomed of losing people or objects they love, through losing unsignificant things. She talks about losing objects such as ‘door keys’ or her ‘mother’s watch’ which Bishop suggests we should prepare ourselves for loss we are still exposed to and its pain and grief. The speaker inmeadeately addresses their attitude and tone in the poem with the first line ‘the art of losing isn’t hard to master’. The situation the speaker is confronting is the inevitablity of loss and how it may hurt, but life continues.
The first stanza provides a clear opening statement of the poem, which declares that loss isn’t a big deal and we should get used to it. She advises that we should get used to loss by practising loosing less important things such as, ‘a mother’s watch’ or the ‘house keys’ or a bit of wasted time so you become comfortable with the insignificant loses and be ready when the big issues come along. The loses in the poem become more and more significant. First is the things we remember, like names and places, then it’s more specific items such as a mother’s watch or homes.
The imagery displayed in this poem is taking real life situations in which you lose something and produce some sort of emotion or importance behind it, like losing a watch shouldn’t hold that much significance to certain people, but losing a continent carries much weight and is a big deal. Words in the poem that seem to have the most meaning are ‘loose’, ‘disaster’ and ‘master’. These words respond to the overall message and tone of the poem. Bishop portrays the repeated use of imagery by first recognising the art of losing insignificant things to shifting to more profound things.
The speaker encourages the ‘you’ in the poem. In the last stanza the ‘you’ is her lover who had committed suicide to practise losing. Bishop uses the villanelle form where the first and third lines of the first tercet are repeated. Structurally the poem begins with insignificant loses such as keys, hours, names, and then progresses to more important things such as people and things. At the end of each line, words rhyme with either ‘master’ or ‘intent’. Bishop repeats the word ‘like’ to avoid the shocking disaster : the loss of a person still deeply loved. On the first and third lines of most stanzas, there’s a rhyme scheme of A, B, A except the last stanza has four lines and a rhyme scheme of A, B, C, C.
One art is a villanelle poem. It is made up of triplets and a final quatrain. The poem has 16 lines divided into 6 stanzas with three lines each except the last stanza has four. Lambic pentameter is also used throughout the poem. The poem is lighthearted in the beginning and then fades into a more serious tone near the end. The tone progressively changes as the poem continues, becoming more personal to the speaker. The last stanza is sorrowful. Bishop uses short, straightforward sentences and a repeated structure in which we explore different losses.
Bishop never admits she feels sad about the many losses mentioned in this poem. The poet reminds us that sadness plays an insignificant role here. ‘’The art of losing isn’t hard to master’’ This confident statement covers up any emotion that lossing might create.
‘’ I miss them but it wasn’t a disaster’’ The poet admits that she misses the places she loved and lost, she is still hesitating to say that any loss is disastrous. We are not sure how the poet lost these places and why they are inaccesible for her.
This poem conciously avoids describing the pain of losing a beloved person or thing but constantly attemps to remind us how much we care about the people, places and things in our lives.
‘’Then practise losing father, losing faster: places, names and were it was you meant to travel’’, here loss is re-defined not only as the loss of objects or even time but of memory itself. ‘’I lost my mother’s watch. And look! My last or next to last, of three loved houses went’’ These curious statements lead us to wonder what significance these objects have for the poet. We are certain that the watch is a symbol for her relanshionship with her mother.
One art doesn’t dive straight in and attack the big issues, like the loss of a home or a loved one but instead begins with little things that we often loose. As the poem goes on, the objects mentioned become more and more meaningful. We observe that by the end that the loss of simple objects such as a key or watch become a metaphor for the loss of other things the poet loves such as past homes or lovers.
In lines 2 and 3 the poet personifies the lost objects, stating that they ‘’seem filled with the intent to be lost’’ meaning they want to get lost.
In the final stanza the poet reveals that the poem is actually about the loss of a loved one. The poet mentions not only specific homes but also beloved cities and a continent that she’s lost. This makes us wonder how she owned these places. These places are maybe symbolic of the memories she had of them or the relashionships she once had there.
One art is a simple enough poem with the themes loss and love. The flow is catchy and consistent. It wasn’t terribly long and annoying altogether and I enjoyed it. The poem focuses mainly on the art of loosing which means practice makes perfect. No matter how much we practise the art of loosing, we can never really be prepared for losses.