The poem “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop, touched me personally because it is an acceptance of reality. Her opening line, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master;” (line 1) is very straightforward as to what the poem will be about. Her transition in the poem from the loss of small things, such as “door keys” (line 5), graduates to the loss of much bigger things. Furthermore, Bishop begins her poem with a rhyming pattern that seems to unravel as she progresses through the poem. Without a doubt, signifies the reflection of her own emotions unraveling, as she concludes with the loss of her love. This poem is beautifully written, and I believe has to be a credit to the “good” category of love.
After Bishop’s opening line she states, “so many things seem filled with intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” (lines 2-3) She is implying here that there are some things that are intended to be lost. Indeed, she is expressing that there can be growth from loss. In the second stanza she states, “Lose something everyday. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” (lines 4-6) She gives us an example of a reality that may be small, and even happen daily that we must accept. Bishop exudes that she is a person that has aged with wisdom and experience, which is concluded after her fourth and fifth stanzas. “And look! my last, or next-to-last of three loved houses went.” (line 11) “I lost two cities, lovely ones. “ (line 13) Both these lines are representative of journeys and accomplishments that are achieved through an extended period of time. As Bishop progresses in her poem, the losses become considerably substantial. She states, “And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.” (lines 13-15) She conveys that although these were great losses that they were not a disaster, until we move to the final stanza. Here Bishop seems to unravel as her rhyme pattern weakens, and her true feelings are finally revealed. “-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!) disaster.” (lines 16-19)
The manner in which Bishop expresses her loss through the text, conveys to the reader that the “art” of losing is a reality. The loss of things is inevitable, whether great or small, as time passes we will lose more. What makes this poem so beautiful is her diction and transition from the loss of small things to the loss of the one she loves. In her last stanza, that reflects her true feelings, how the loss of her love feels like a disaster. The entire poem was a persuasion of, “the art of losing isn’t hard to master.” (line 1) This falls under the “good “category of love because throughout the losses she reflects on in her poem, she pressed in and pressed on. She had obviously experienced so much in her life. Yet even still, after giving us her wisdom that seemed gained through an array of life’s journeys, she tells us that the loss of her love still feels like disaster. However, reflecting back on all she has sustained in her life, it seems that she is using that as ammunition to help her through the current “disaster” that she is facing. I believe that shows true strength and real insight to how we should handle situations today. NFL fullback Bob Christian once said, “I never decide whether it’s time to retire during training camp.” Bishop choosing to remember her losses and how she got through them is a fundamental lesson that we can all learn from. John Maxwell states, “Do not give up when you are in the valley.” (41)
Bishop’s poem, “One Art,” is truly a work of art in itself, its simplicity makes it easy to understand a very essential concept that we should all strive to use in our lives. It can be broadened to not only dealing with the loss of a loved one, but in pressing through any circumstances or situations in which we find ourselves. These difficult encounters in life are definite things that we will have to go through. The important part is how we deal with them. One of my favorite quotes is from Joyce Meyer, “Attitude is a choice, not a feeling.” As difficult circumstances are inevitable, we can choose the attitude we have as we go through them.
Delbanco, Nicholas, and Alan Cheuse. "One Art." Literature: Craft and Voice. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 849. Print.
Maxwell, John C. The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson/Nelson Business, 1999. N. pag. Print.
Meyer, Joyce. A Trusting Attitude. CD-ROM. Fenton, MO: Joyce Meyer Ministries, 2012.