A Lesson in Mastering Loss

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A Lesson in Mastering Loss Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art” is about loss. In it she mentions many of the small losses in life that we may experience but she is clearly talking about losing a love. Who she is speaking to in this poem is unclear but there is evidence to show that she and she alone is her own audience for this poem. She expresses denial, anger, blame, regret, humor and in the end she exclaims “Write it!”, which looks to be directed from the speaker to herself, either way it can be construed as acceptance. In the poem she goes through increasingly bigger losses that she quickly dismisses in a sarcastic manner until she reaches the loss of her lover. Bishop hesitates with accepting this final loss suggesting that it is the biggest loss of all. In her poem “One Art”, Elizabeth Bishop uses a facetious tone to guide the reader through the range of emotions felt by loss, with the overall theme of odd acceptance. Bishop jumps right into a cleverly amusing tone in the very first line with "The art of losing isn't hard to master." She describes losing as an art as if it's a superior skill that you can learn by study, practice, and observation. By claiming it isn’t hard to master it’s like she is trying to teach others how to lose like she does, but I doubt anyone asked her with admiration and want of learning how she is able to lose so easily. Of course she could have asked herself how it is so easy to lose. At this point in the poem she has herself convinced that loss is not a big deal because it is so common. This tone permeates throughout the poem but never detracts from the underlying seriousness of the “art of losing.” In the second and third line she says “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.“ Here she is putting the blame elsewhere. These losses are in no way her fault because it was already
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