Analysis Of Elizabeth Bishop 's One Art Essay

Analysis Of Elizabeth Bishop 's One Art Essay

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Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” on the surface appears to be a poem about preparing one’s self for loss but through close reading it becomes clear that the poem takes a deeper look at what loss truly means. At its’ core “One Art” is about the journey of loss and the new perspectives gained through the experience. The speaker of the poem is trying to convey that losing things, people and places as we gain them throughout life is an inevitable experience that must be accepted but the speaker is trying to control the experience by denying it power. The poem invites the reader to believe that the persona of the speaker is actually the poet, which is evident in the final line of the poem with the inclusion of “(Write it!)” the speaker/poet has written the poem as a means of coping with her own loss. The major themes of the poem are loss, control, the passage of time, memory, love, denial and finally acceptance all of which are seen through the various examples of loss the speaker weaves throughout the poem. The title of the poem has a double meaning; the art of losing and the art of writing are combined to create “One Art” for the speaker/poet. The experience of loss creates a situation where expression (meaning writing) becomes a means of working through that experience, the two feed off of each other and are mutually exclusive. The turn of the poem shows the speaker attempting to cope with her latest loss (which happens to be the loss of a loved one) through her writing. The real turn is discovering that the final loss is the most tragic and is in fact a personal disaster, the reader is confronted with the fact that the speaker has been downplaying the affect loss has had on her. The speakers casually dismissal of her own feelings is th...


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...speaker continues to bury her emotional backlash from the event. This is the first time the speaker expands the details of what she has lost though “Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love)”, it is clear that these are things the speaker remembers fondly and her cavalier attitude waivers when remembering them. The speaker struggles to follow her own rule of not lingering in the past and just moving forward. In the end she forces herself to continue living in the lie and continues to insist that even her current tragedy is not a disaster, although the vulnerability and weakness of her argument is apparent with the true meaning of (write it!). The speaker needs to force herself to believe that she has in fact mastered the art of losing and no matter how negative things look she will not let it be a disaster, the “One Art” occurs in this compulsory action.

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