"One Art" By Elizabeth Bishop

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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The ultimate sorrow of loss is deftly described in the poem "One Art"� by Elizabeth Bishop. The speaker manages, through vehement self-denial of needing her loved one, to convey to an awesome extent the depth of her sense of loss without that person. The irony of this"¦"¦..

The title of the poem gives away the inability to focus on anything but the person you've lost. "One Art"� can be read as the one function she is able to perform in the wake of her loss, that is, missing that person terribly. Losing is the one art she has managed to conquer. Also, the idea of "one"� could translate to mean that she is all alone now, so that the art she performs is the art of being a solitary woman. In either case, the voice of a human suffering terrible pain is evident. By using the term "art,"� the speaker attempts to raise her plight to a certain level of cold sophistication, indicating her disregard for the loss she has endured.

However, the abject loneliness of the statement "one art"� cues the reader in to the notion that this lonely art is all she has left in the world.

(villanelle=controlled structure) Structure plays a huge role in the development of this poem, following the speaker's gradually more and more fragmented justifications with a progressively disrupted design. Rhyme scheme contributes to the repetition of the piece, with an ABA pattern that serves to beat into the mind of the reader the mantra-esque quality of the poem. The speaker reminds herself of her contentment with her loss continually with words that rhyme with either "master"� or "intent."� In the two cases where the rhyme is slightly off, "fluster"� and "gesture,"� it seems that the speaker is giving...

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