One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

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The title One Art by Elizabeth Bishop works on two different levels, which expresses the function of the entire villanelle structured poem. First, it stands as the “art of losing” mentioned in the first line of the poem. However, it also includes the use of writing (“Write it!”) present throughout the poem but best recognized in the last line. These two seemingly unrelated points (at first glance) put together combines loss, the coping of such loss, and the expressing of the experience through the author’s structure and form. Within the first stanza, the language present in the first line (“the art of losing isn’t hard to master”) suggests doubt in that the speaker is trying to convince herself that losing things is not hard and she should not worry. The function is to provide the foundation for the entire poem. Due to the fact that so many things intent to be lost, this it should not seem disastrous when they are actually lost, yet somehow it still is a disaster (paradox). In the second stanza, the assertive tone (“fluster”) implies a sense of dominance and power over the audience and conveys a sense of virtue within losing oneself. Then, there is juxtaposition between concrete and abstract items, introducing the motif of memory. Finally, the last line of the second stanza romanticizes the idea of loss and justifies it as being favorable. The repetition “losing” in the third stanza shows it is not careless intention, but of the narrator losing herself. The words “places, names, where you meant to travel” explain the loss of identity and goals in the pursuit. The final line “None of these will bring disaster” shows there will be no detrimental effects. As each stanza ends and a new one begins, the size of loss escalades and becomes difficult over time. This introduces the irony in that by losing items the narrator is becoming more possessive. In addition, the loss of both concrete and abstract items throughout the stanzas represent that nothing is eternal and it...
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