English 002, Section 1448
22 October 2018
Poetry Portfolio Assignment
The One Art poem was written by Elizabeth Bishop. The poem is written in a disconnected and straightforward manner and is in an ABA structure while ending the first and third paragraphs by rhyming. Deemed as her most renowned poem, “One Art” is a poem that revolves around the topic of loss. The act of losing is transformed into an art form and journeys through the idea that if we somehow theoretically master the ability of losing, we may be able to further ourselves from the agony of defeat. The father of Elizabeth passed away while she was only eight months old, her mother on the other hand suffered from severe mental illness and if that wasn’t enough Elizabeth lost a lover to suicide. As we read the poem it is hard not to think of it being written at least in part about herself. Throughout the poem, Elizabeth reveals to the reader the many things that can be lost in life, while the significance of the items being lost increases.
We can see how from the start Elizabeth shows us her purpose. Proclaiming that part of what it is to be human is loss. As humans we all lose both important and immaterial things continuously. Elizabeth states that this is simply an ordinary part of life and that we should just acknowledge it as so. She further expresses to the reader that by mastering this training we may be able to eliminate any feeling of tragedy we may derive from the loss.
We can see how in the second section of the poem Elizabeth uses time and keys, two inconsequential items to lose. As we read the first two lines, we can’t help but stop and contemplate how outlandish it is to be agitated while we lose our keys. We learn from these two incidents how it is unquestionably easy to master while being nowhere near a catastrophe.
Obvious pressure begins to form in the next portion as Elizabeth instigates the reader to expand their training, while widening the range of what’s lost. The possessions being lost are far more abstract as they relate to plans, individuals and residences that effortlessly release from our thoughts. While being a bit more arduous to acknowledge, the affirmation that catastrophe will be circumvented is less of a relief. While time and keys seem ordinary and regular, to knowingly misplace these things support our practicing of losing. Plans, individuals and residences demand greater effort to misplace not to mention a certain amount of emotional distancing.
Very little changes between the next two sections of the poem. As we read we notice how the narrator alternates indiscernibly from directly talking to the reader to using their personal experience. It’s from this point where we see Elizabeth’s detailed structural tone convert into that of an expressionless tone. Elizabeth declares how she lost her mother’s watch, a statement that appears to emanate from nowhere. As the initial tone changes and further disappears, we can see how the mention of these intimate objects has risen the stakes. Despite the seemingly casual manner, we read an emotional shout “And look!”. Elizabeth conveys a sense of urgency to us as she directs us to view our losses from a greater perspective.
As Elizabeth continues to write we see how she resumes to distance herself from the loss by moving back from the pain. We can see how the subject of what is being lost has started to encompass larger items to that of regions and towns. However, a wistful air ensues as she refers to these as lovely ones, all the while affirming that the loss is not a catastrophe. She however discloses that these items are indeed missed. We as readers are left to wonder that if this loss is inconsequential then what would therefore comprise one?
What we see Elizabeth doing in the next few lines is no sort of demonstration of sorrow, but the coaching on how we can try to deal with it. As we are systematically training ourselves on how to lose Elizabeth aids us in recognizing how all the small objects we lose daily and all the larger items lost is indeed not devastating. Throughout the One Art poem, Elizabeth alludes that losing is a ordinary process that pervades throughout life on an daily basis.
If all that we read was nothing more than the opening and the conclusion of the poem we could possibly assume it to be a callous and apathetic poem. However, we would be incorrect in assuming that. We see how when we read the entire piece it is written more along the lines of a compassionate collection of counsel. We are shown how loss is a normal process of living, just as much as the emotion associated with it. In writing her experiences we can see hoe Elizabeth hopes that she can help others evade the hurt that comes along the practicing of losing.