One art

One art
The poem One art by Elizabeth Bishop may look as a simple type of poem, but it isn’t. This poem is a villanelle poem. A poem that is repetitive and it tells us how everything can fall apart.

The poem One art by Elizabeth Bishop may look as a simple type of poem, but it isn’t. This poem is a villanelle poem. A poem that is repetitive and it tells us how everything can fall apart.

Analysis

A villanelle is a poem that consists of nineteen lines of five tercets (three lines), followed by a quatrain (four lines). You can compare these types of the poem with an echo. It repeats itself. The basis for this type of poetry comes from the Latin (Roman) poetry, that was later used by the Italian poets. Its origins may date back even long before the Romans used this type of poetry, as quatrains date back to the ancient civilisations in Asia.

Why would anyone write this type of poetry? Well, because they can! It takes great writing skills – that Bishop definitely mastered) to write poems such as these. In this poem, she thinks about the creation of art and then losing this all. You might also think about the moments when someone is feeling their world crumbling down. It all comes down to those last moments, just before we realise everything is indeed falling down. And yes, in this fine example, it’s the loss of love that is felt at the end. When it seems to be too late.

The poem is based on her own life. Her father died when she was only eight months old and her mother drifted away into insanity. In a later period of her life, she lost her lover to suicide. Parts of this poem are autobiographical. A magnificent poem, that tells us it isn’t all sunshine.

 

One art

 

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.

 

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.

— Elizabeth Bishop

 

This poem was published before on our website. We decided to change the image for this poem and to give more details about the style of this poem. Click here to read the article published in 2017.
Title
One art
Article Name
One art
Summary
When everything is falling apart...
Author
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs

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