Journal#9 Carol Lin
Page 1 No.59
Poetry (4)-One Art
I think this is a very cute, brilliant, and imaginative poem. It not only points out the common fact in a new way that we'll all lose different things during our entire life but also appropriately compare the "acceptance of losing" to an "art."
In the first stanza, the speaker directly tells us "The art of losing isn't hard to master." There are two functions of this line. One is informing readers what "one art" is; the other is declaring the speaker's attitude, which is important in the whole poem. And then, it says, "so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster." Here, the speaker personifies things we lost by putting a funny hypothesis-It's things themselves that "want" to be lost! It seems like we, the master of things, have no responsibility to the loss, so it is no disaster!
From the second stanza to the fifth one, it starts to introduce and classify "what we can lose" in our life. First, we may lose door keys, the hour badly spent, and mother's watch. These are something concrete, acceptable, and existing in daily life. But then, the "loss" starts to get farther and faster. The speaker mentions about losing "places", "names", and "loved houses", and even "cities", "realms", and "rivers." I think it's easy for us to associate these abstract things with one's memories since we do forget "things", especially those happen in childhood or long time ago. However, I think the incredible loss of "cities", "realms", and "rivers" possibly indicates that the speaker feels her home, hometown, or country has changed a lot and becomes a totally strange "thing" to her. She can hardly recognize the things she once loved, identified to, and lived in. That's why she lost them.
In the last stanza, the object of loss changes. The speaker talks about the loss of a "person" instead of things. Through the self-confession and the weakening declaration: "I shan't have lied. It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look (Write it!) like disaster," we understand the former repeated "The art of losing isn't hard to master" and "their loss is no disaster" are actually not what the speaker feels inside. She has to admit eventually that some loss does matter much to her. I'm touched that she says this when she lost a "person" and the struggle- (Write it!) really shows how difficult and contradictory for the speaker to reveal her true feelings.
Besides the creative content, this poem is good at arranging the variation of the repeated line, the helpful effect of regular rhyme (master-intent-disaster, a-b-a), and also the use of open vowels ("losing", "lost door key etc.), and explosive sounds ("the joking voice", "a gesture I love" etc.). The above techniques are well used to make the difference very obvious between the former conceit attitude and the later honest confess.
I just love this poem because I feel the same with the speaker toward "the art of losing." I like the way she presents and the obvious lie. (too many repetitions!)