One Art

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

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.

Summary of One Art

  • Popularity of “One Art”: Written by Elizabeth Bishop, a famous American poet, and short story writer, “One Art” is a marvelous piece about losing and forgetting important. It was first published in 1976. The poem is about exercising the art of losing to catch up with a healthy pace of life. It also reminds us to cope with the losses we face in life no matter how big or small they are.
  • “One Art”, As a Representative of Loss: The poem presents an autobiographical glimpse of the speaker’s life about the things and people she has lost in life. The speaker catalogs the things she has lost and explains that the art of losing is not really hard to master. Instead, it is a creative venture that enables her to get over those grave. Therefore, she has mastered this art to spend a healthy life. Also, she has learned these tactics through bitter experiences. However, what enchants the readers is the way she presents the idea of losing.
  • Major Themes in “One Art”: Losing, acceptance, and sadness are the major themes found in the poem incorporated with powerful language and other literary elements. The poet’s message includes losing something, or someone does not bring disaster. She details her own losses to support her idea that the art of losing teaches us how to come out of precarious situations and be happy.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “One Art”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings with the use of these devices. Elizabeth has also used some literary elements in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /l/ and /f/ in “Then practice losing farther, losing faster” and the sound of /l/ in “though it may look like (Write it!) Like disaster.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things with their five sense. For example, “of lost door keys, the hour badly spent”, “I lost my mother’s watch. And look! My last,” and “next-to-last, of three loved houses went.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break rather moves over the next line. For example,

“I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism means the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. “Lost door keys” and “watch” symbolize the hours misspent in life. “Watch” also symbolizes her relationship with her mother, while “You” is the symbol of her lost love.
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meanings of the words. She has used this device in the opening of the last stanza,Even losing you.” The speaker has used ironic tone for her lose that even losing her love was not hard to master.
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to non-human things. Poet has personified her lost objects as if they have a purpose. For example,

“so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ and /a/ in “the art of losing’s not too hard to master”.
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. There is only one metaphor used in this poem. It is used in the final stanza where it is stated as, “—Even losing you” Here, “you” is the metaphor for the speaker’s lost happiness.

The closer glimpse of literary analysis reveals that Elizabeth has intelligently used these devices to convey her ideas and made this simple poem thought-provoking for the readers.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “One Art”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: Stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are six stanzas in this poem.
  2. Terza Rima: Terza rima is a three lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. There are five three-lined stanzas in the poem.
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, only last stanza is quatrain.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is, ABA ABAA.
  5. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. This poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”.
  6. Repetition: There is a repetition of the line “The art of losing isn’t hard to master” has created a musical quality in the
  7. Refrain: The lines that are repeated again at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The line, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” is repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain as it has been repeated in all six stanzas.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used when talking about any personal loss and to console someone.

“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.”