“One Art” By Elizabeth Bishop (Reference to the Context)

Reference: These lines have been taken from the poem “One Art” written by Elizabeth Bishop.
Context: In this poem the poetess wants to teach us that the art of losing things is necessary to lead a pleasant life. We should not bother, whether things are lost or snatched from us. The loss of door-keys or some other possession should be accepted as a part of life. No loss should disturb us, we should take our defeats and losses lightly.

Stanza 1
In these lines the poetess wants to teach us an uncommon lesson about losing things. She says that the art of losing things is not difficult to learn. Many things are included or intend to be lost. The loss of these things which we lose everyday, will bring no disaster. Actually, the poetess wants to teach us the art of acceptance and resignation.
Stanza 2
In these lines the poetess tells us that we should try to lose something everyday and accept the confusion created by this loss. For example, if we lose door keys, naturally, an hour is spent in trouble. After that we will get used to the loss, or we shall find some solution to the problem. Even then if we try to learn the art of losing things, it is not difficult to master.
Stanza 3
The poetess says, we should try to lose things farther and faster. This practice will habituate you to losing things and you will not feel any trouble. Once you get used to losing things, then forget the names of people with whom you lived and forget the place where you did go and spent some time. Forgetting names and places will not put you in trouble if you
have mastered the art of losing.
Stanza 4
In the given lines the poetess cites some personal examples. She says that once she lost the watch given to her by her mother. This watch was very dear to her but its losing did not create any disturbance to her. After that she lost three very dear houses by migrating from one place to another. She lost these houses one after the other. But this did not disturb
her. So the art of losing things is not difficult to learn.
Stanza 5
In these lines, also the poetess quotes some other examples. She says that she lost two dearest cities and more than that she left two very dear rivers and also some property and estate that she owned. In addition, she lost even a whole continent, when she migrated from North America to South America. She says that she remembers all these things but
their loss is not a disaster. She means to say that some times even kings have to leave their dominions but this does not bring any devastation.
Stanza 6
In these lines the poetess concludes her lesson. She says even if we lose our very dear friends, relatives, their most joking voice, their most loved gestures, these do not bring any destruction. She says, perhaps she has not told a lie in this regard. Obviously, the art of losing things is not difficult to learn, although it looks so. But one thing is clear that losing things does not bring any disaster. The poetess wants to teach us that for leading peaceful life, it is necessary to accept the hard realities of life and accept even the worst impact of our losses. It is necessary to take our defeats and failures lightly.

3 thoughts on ““One Art” By Elizabeth Bishop (Reference to the Context)”

  1. Allow me to disagree with your interpretation, to me Bishop is not actually meaning that the Art of Losing is easy to master, and that we should “get over” the lost things to lead a peaceful life. Instead she is self-denying, reassuring, insisting to face her great losses in life squarely, and that forces her to repeat the line “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”. But really, as seen in the last stanza, losing beloved people and things is a disaster for me, and surely you can feel the underlying emotion, so painful, powerful and intense, contained within the form of villanelle. The poem is about her struggle with her internal emotional turmoil, not a easy life lesson.

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