Essay on One Art - Elizabeth Bishop

Words: 1353
Pages: 6

To Love, is to Lose

The most prominent quality of Elizabeth Bishop’s, “One Art,” remains the concise organization and rhyme scheme of the poem, which amazingly keeps the audience informed at all times what the theme. Her choice of a villanelle constantly reminds the audience that “the art of losing” always seem easy until one loses something so much more than an inanimate object and at the point, it does become a “disaster.” Written in 1976, the poem is very modern and uses an impeccable rhyme scheme, diction, and imagery to convey the hints of misery and frantic the speaker feels.
In the opening of the poem, the speaker immediately begins to ponder about “the art of losing.” By writing “the art of losing isn’t hard to master,” she
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The fact that she can’t point out any details of the item she lost shows she doesn’t care about it and it doesn’t matter. She starts using the first person, saying that the items she lost were hers. She had begun with losing small things like “lost door keys, the hour badly spent”. Then she lost her “mother’s watch” and then “three loved houses”, but still she was able to bear with it. She lost “two cities”, “some realms [she] owned, two rivers, a continent” (line 13-14) but it didn’t matter to her. The things she lost were worth nothing to her and were easily disposable. But there is one thing that she can’t seem to get over losing.
The last stanza, which is where the shift takes place, reflects the hidden pain that the speaker has tried to hide all along. Her nonchalant attitude of loss was only a way for her to cope with the significant loss in her life. Not only does she revert to speaking in first person, it is evident that there is one person that she is dedicating the entire poem to. She admits she “shan’t have lied” when saying losing things is easy because she found the one thing that hurts to lose: “you”. Here is where her audience changes to her lover. She still loves him; she uses the present tense word “love”. She hasn’t gotten over it. Looking back, she seems to be losing things to cope with the loss she has suffered. She thought if she lost some things, she might get used to