20 February 2014
Elizabeth Bishops’ ‘One Art’
Poems are more than just words and sentences. Most poems include underlying themes and figurative language to help the reader to further understand and analyze the poem. The theme in Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” is that however much a person can grow accustomed to losing something, the loss of friendship and love is especially hard to cope with. Figurative language and literary devices play an important part to help develop themes in poems by use of symbolism, irony, and repetition.
Bishop uses symbolism to give a further, intellectual meaning to her subject other than its literal definition. Bishop uses the term “art” for two different meanings. She coins the term “the art of losing” to describe loss as a sort of practice or sport (Bishop 1). She insists that the more someone loses, the better they are at dealing with it. The literal meaning of art used however is the poem itself. The poem is the author’s reaction to when she loses a possession, to relieve the sense of loss and to discover a way to get over it by releasing her feelings and writing it down. In the villanelle, Bishop also uses symbolism when she mentions, “lost door keys, the hour badly spent” (5). She begins with material items that are easily replaced before moving onto the loss of a person. However the main losses she encounters are the watch, which represents her mother, the “three loved houses”, and her loved one mentioned in the last stanza (11). All three are friends, family, and lovers that the reader can relate to because eventually everyone loses a parent and an important relationship. The three houses represent not only her childhood where she grew up and left but also homes she shared while in relationships. Compared to the material items she talked about earlier, the people in her life that she has lost cannot be replaced.
Irony is usually used in poetry to represent two...
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