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Elizabeth Bishop's Poem One Art: Accepting Loss

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Elizabeth Bishop's Poem One Art: Accepting Loss essay
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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.

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Elizabeth Bishop’s Poem One Art: Accepting Loss. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from
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