The poem "One Art" is about the art of losing. Elizabeth Bishop tries in every aspect to give evidence to persuade the reader and even her herself that the art of losing isn't hard to master, and it is not a disaster. However the ironic tone of this poem greatly reveal that in fact, it IS a disaster and it really hurts.
In the first stanza of "One Art", it points out its main theme that so many things in our life is tended to be lost, and taking "losing" as a kind of art instead of a disaster, there is no need to worry about it. "The art of losing isn't hard to master" she keeps mentioned. In the following stanzas, Bishop started to give evidence of her theory of " the art of losing". She gives examples from concrete things such as door keys and mother's watch to abstract things like time we badly spent, places and names we forgot and further more, some experiences we could never have again. Put together, the meaning of "losing" gets richer and richer. With the slow but steady tempo, and the repeated sentence "the art of losing is not hard to master", Bishop teaches us to practice the art, to "loosing" farther and faster.
In the last two stanza, the tone of the poem starts to turn weaker, and finally admits that the art of loosing is like a disaster. In the fifth stanza, the poet reveals that she misses what she lost, two lovely cites, some realms she owned, and a continent, which is associated with the lost cultural experiences. In the last stanza, when talking about losing "you", Bishop at last acknowledged that the art of losing is "not hard" to master, which means in other words it is hard in someway. The losing which she keeps deny to be a disaster, may look like disaster, though.
The poem, written in an French form - the villanelle, is well organized and the meaning of "One Art" gets enlarged by the form. The poem contains six stanzas, and each of the first five stanzas are composed of three lines, and four lines in the last stanza. Theoretically , the first line of a poem in the villanelle is repeated as the third line of the second and fourth stanzas; the entire third line is repeated as the third line of the third and fifth stanzas, and these two lines reappear yet again as a pair of rhyming lines at the end of the poem. Bishop, technically and beautifully apply the form with a little variation into this poem. "The art of losing isn't hard to master" which is the main idea of the poem is repeated in the first, sixth, and twelfth line, which keeps enhancing the faith of the art; but in the last two line with the word "too" (the art of losing's not too hard to master), it created a turning point that the art of losing after all is hard for the poet herself or we readers to master. The technique of variation, which avoid monopoly in the use of the villanelle, is found in the other sentence about disaster. In the third line, it said "their loss is no disaster; and "none of these will bring disaster" in the ninth line, "but it wasn't a disaster" in the fifteenth. Finally, in the last line which comes to the climax said that "though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster."
My heart was struck by Bishop's idea of losing since it was always hard for me to deal with losing something I own. I love the poem so much that I put it on my homepage to share with people passing by.