Elizabeth Bishop

(8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979 / Worcester, Massachusetts)

One Art - Poem 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,
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Form: Villanelle

Comments about One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

  • (4/27/2008 4:38:00 PM)

    Amy Hayden... do not quote from films when critiquing a poem. Specifically in this case from 'In Her Shoes'.
    It's not doing you any favours.
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    13 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • (4/21/2008 12:33:00 AM)

    I most deffinately have to agree with Rashad, the poem is about loosing love, but not the love of a lover. At first she talks about loosing real things like keys and a watch, but then she talks about loosing things such as a continent, she's getting grandiose, Bishop is trying to make it seam like it doesnt matter, her tone is detached, she wants to sound detached becuse she knows deep down how bad it's going to feel to loose. but it isnt a lover that she's loosing it's a friend, friendship. I absolutely love this poem! ! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (10/7/2007 6:50:00 PM)

    The author tries very hard to detach herself from her pain – a pain so horrible in the end, it is compared constantly to “disaster”; albeit, through barely discernable and subtle skepticism. In shrugging off her losses, she attempts to justify what she hopes will bring her peace – taking loss to an art form. This inhuman feat can never be successfully accomplished – among mere mortals anyway. “Even losing you, ” she says, is obviously the most unbearable of losses – so much so she cannot even she cannot bring herself to write the word and so it is through parenthetic pause (Write it) she once again feels the gravity of her loss – again the word “disaster”.

    Note also that in the first three stanzas she repeats:

    The art of losing is not hard to master.

    When it comes to losing the friend or lover that statement becomes:

    The art of losing is not too hard to master.

    To me, this puts the reader on notice that if it we were to simply remove the word “not”, the true meaning of the poem is revealed. When one tries to hard to convince me of something, they are usually fooling themselves.
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  • (5/11/2007 11:51:00 PM)

    One of her greatest and most influential poems. The last line's parenthetic exclamation redeems the ironic stance on loss (as if the art of losing was easy to master) . It says, with a lump in the throat, but full resolve, 'get on with your life! '
    Two other great poems: The Moose, The Fish
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  • (4/5/2007 2:26:00 AM)

    One ARTIST! ! ......magnificent work....as always.....! ! (Report) Reply

  • (1/16/2007 9:13:00 PM)

    Hi. I dont speak english very well, but I'll try to say something about the great poetry.
    I belived that the subject is, learn lose things, love, friends, because this situations not stop the life, but this situations give to us a new chance for a new life step, when you really learn to lose everything, and is it not a desaster for you, you grow up inside, your spirit is grow up, and the life is a hole gift, not a desaster

    Did you undestend what im trying to say?
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/30/2006 5:27:00 PM)

    I agree with Rashad Mccloud. The narrator seems to be more trying to convince herself that losing something is easy and that after something is lost it should be forgotten. But as it turns out in the last stanza she lost a friend which was harder on her than she lets on. (Report) Reply

  • (12/24/2006 1:03:00 PM)

    I think that the subject of the poem is losing per se examined on a number of levels.

    The form is quite interesting - a modified Villanelle. The second repeated line is changed on each repetition.
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  • (9/8/2006 2:17:00 PM)

    She's not saying that writing poetry is a lost are form... She wants the reader to believe at mastering losing is easy, but it's not. It's more like she trying to convience herself that mastering losing is eas or even reacheble. At first she's starts talking about losing something minor like a key or a watch, but then she moves on to more vast things like a river and continent... Now she mentioned that she 'missed it', if you mastered the art of losing why would you miss something? In the last stanza she speaks about losing Love.. Which can easily be written but not believed.. And it's not the lost of a lover, but the lost of a friend... (Report) Reply

  • Brian Dorn (7/25/2006 2:36:00 PM)

    Losing is easy but writing poetry has become something of a 'lost art, '... it's still practiced but seldom mastered. (Report) Reply

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