Monday, August 3, 2020

"One Art"

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In One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, the speakers attitude in the last stanza relates to the other stanzas in verse form and language. The speaker uses these devices to convey her attitude about losing objects.

The verse form in One Art is villanelle. The poem has five stanzas of three lines until the last, which is four lines. In the first three stanzas, the poem is told in second person. Lose something every day. seems to command one to practice the art of losing things. In the last three stanzas, first person is used, and the speaker relates how she lost her mothers watch and other life incidents. However, the speaker addresses her beloved you, and then in the last line, herself.

Language in One Art is simple, yet many literary devices are used. The last line repeated, to the effect of The art of losing isnt hard to master suggests that the speaker is trying to convince herself that losing things is not hard and she should not worry. Also, the speaker uses hyperboles when describing in the fifth stanza that she lost two cities...some realms I owned. Since she could not own, much less lose a realm, the speaker seems to be comparing the realm to a large loss in her life. Finally, the statement in the final quatrain Even losing you begins the irony in that stanza. The speaker remarks that losing this person is not too hard to master. The shift in attitude by adding the word too shows that the speaker has an ironic tone for herself in her loss or perhaps her husband or someone else close to her.

Language and verse form show in One Art how the losses increase in importance as the poem progresses, with the losses in lines 1-15 being mostly trivial or not very important to the great loss in lines 16-1 or a beloved person. Elizabeth Bishop suggests then that mastering the art of losing objects, such as car keys, does not prepare one for the loss of a person, which adds more irony to the title. There must be more than one art to losing, if losing a person is a separate suffering.

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Identifying the speaker in "One Art" is a difficult task. Evidence would point out that the speaker is none other than the poet, Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop has endured many losses throughout her life and many of the specific lines in the poem refer to things she herself experienced. "I lost two cities, lovely ones" (Bishop 54) is in fact a true statement about Bishop. Because her father died when she was eight months old and her mother was committed to a mental asylum she was sent to live with her grandparents in Nova Scotia. ("Elizabeth Bishop"). When she was 6 years old her other grandparents took her from Nova Scotia to live with them in Worcester, Massachusetts. She then left Worchester to live with her aunt Maud and uncle George at eight years old.

Bishop continues to bring out more personal references in the final stanza when she makes a personal note to a specific person. "Even losing you..." (Bishop 54). This reference is possibly to her close personal friend Lota de Macedo Soares, who died of an overdose in Bishop's house while Bishop slept. ("Bishop")

Bishop created the poem "One Art" as a rare biography poem, but at the same time, as a poem that would fit the lives of many individuals. She touches on all aspects of losing that people face in the world from simple objects, important objects, places, and finally other people. "One Art" represents the struggle a person must go through to overcome such events and the daily reassurance necessary to not allow these losses to be considered a disaster.

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