"Mastering the Art of Loss"Ã¯Â¿Â½ with Elizabeth Bishop.
Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art"Ã¯Â¿Â½ dramatizes the conflict between discipline in life and the forces of circumstance, specifically relating to loss. The poem's tone is one of a survivor as one who has supposedly "mastered the art"Ã¯Â¿Â½ of living in a life filled with loss. It is written as a series of losses as if to reassure the reader that control of our life is available to those who try to find within themselves the personal desire of acceptance in the losses that fill our lives. But under the shield of assurance, the poem is filled with irony at the very concept of mastering loss, since loss something no one can truly master.
The format of the poem is a typical villanelle made up of nineteen lines divided into six stanzas of five tercets and one quatrain. The first and third lines rhyme, as do the middle lines of each stanza.
As each line turns, the verses becomes a model of stability and change, repetition and variation dramatizing the strength of the poem itself and intensifying the sarcasm as the poet pretends that she can lightly toss off the pains from one loss to the next. With the end rhymes of "intent/spent"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and "meant/ went"Ã¯Â¿Â½ the reader understands that Bishop is emphasizing that one the other side of will and choice there must always be loss, a loss of control in the circumstances surrounding all life decisions. Bishop instructs us: "Lose something every day,"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and in the third stanza, "Then practice losing farther, losing faster."Ã¯Â¿Â½ It is here that we see that Bishop is writing a kind of instruction manual on loss using her experiences as lessons that every reader can relate to.
The first line of the poem...