One art – Elizabeth

One art, by Elizabeth Bishop

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the int
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.” 
Our literature teacher gave us a task on Bishop’s poem, “One Art” [Here is the link to the task]
  1. I think that by “the art of losing” the writer refers to when you are forced to forget something or to get over it. At first, she is not so serious about it, and she mentions losing things not ‘that’ important, such as “keys”, but then she starts mentioning things such as “cities[…]a continent[…],y mother’s watch[…] you”. By mentioning a person, she takes the problem of losing to another level of serious, to a much higher one.
  2. I found the poem’s format/form very useful to understand it, as it helped organize things and make them clear. Also, she uses modern language, which makes it easier for us to read it
  3. The writer makes use of two main refrains that help for our understanding of the story. One is “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”/”The Art of losing’s not too hard to master”, which she uses to show us the clear message that the poem tries to point out. The repetition of these sentences explain very well the poem and make it clearer. The meaning of this phrase changes as at first is says that is really easy to master, but then it is actually more difficult. The other one is “disaster”, by using this word the author explains what losing/forgetting causes in life, this being not really a disaster at first, and then still, but looking like “(Write it!) Like disaster”
  4. We are supposed to believe that she overcome them, as although it may look like “Write it!) Like disaster” it “wasn’t a disaster”.
  5. Probably not so much, as we would think that losing a “mother’s watch” or even a “continent”, should actually be “a disaster”. Instead, she says that although it may look like “(Write it!) Like disaster” it “wasn’t a disaster”, which is kinda hard to believe.


One art                                                                                                                ↧


  • 19 lines
  • 6 stanzas (5 treats 1 quartrian)
  • 2 refrains
  • 2 rhymes

Stanza 1➝ SETS THE THEME➝ Losing is part of life so we should get used to it and deal with it. Enjambment (L 2-3)

Stanza 2➝ Pedantic tone (arrogant). Accept it! Losing is part of life (keys, hours). Enjambment (L 1-2)

Stanza 3➝ Loses are more significant but still not ‘that’ important

Stanza 4➝  Personal level➝ Mother’s watch➝ emotional significant

Refrain➝ it becomes more important. She’s lying to herself

Stanza 5➝  Loses = cities/rivers/a continent Can you own this- Difficult to understand the writer now.- “Miss”➝What? Who?

Stanza 6➝  The loss = a beloved person- She realized she should´t have lied to herself!➝ Epiphanic stanza (self-discovery)➝IT´S HARD TO COME TO TERMS WITH LOSS.➝ It IS a disaster, ACCEPT IT!

2 Endings Neggative ending She´s still young to herself and can’t recover from her loss                                                                                                                  Possitive ending She feel like a ¨disaster” but she can recover. Life goes on