Love is a Losing Game - Elizabeth Bishop's Poem "One Art"

Love is a Losing Game - Elizabeth Bishop's Poem "One Art"

The definition of losing is not only applied to material items, but it also conveys the feelings of abandonment, departure and rejection that one person can leave in another person’s life. Losing is an inevitable part of life. So many things get lost in an individual’s life. Elizabeth Bishop voiced the sentiment of loss love throughout her poetry. A perfect palpable example is Bishop’s poem “One Art”. In “One Art” Bishop flawlessly describes the sentiment of loss people suffer when losing a loved one. The losing could be death or simply abandonment; it is never accurately explained. All throughout the poem Bishop describe losing unimportant things, such as material ones or those that do not truly belong to a person, with a sense for acceptance. Bishop utters the sentiment of loss in the poem “One Art” through illogical argumentation, false acceptance and denial as well with the help of figurative languages.

Bishop’s poem seems to be an inner-conversation rather than conversing to an audience. She is not trying to convince people that loss is to be expected; rather she is trying to convince herself. Since the first sentence “The art of losing isn’t hard to master;” the figurative languages are state. The word art seems out of place because it is understood that art is a human effort to make something superior but it is not conventional for humans to desire failure, which is a synonym of losing. Furthermore, to master any art is tough, which is a synonym of hard. These statements although seems to be contradictory in a bizarre way make sense, giving a clear example of paradox. Last two sentences of the first stanza “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster” argument that losing is the original purpose after all. Then in the second stanza Bishop goes explaining and how we lose things every day. In the sentence “Accept the fluster of lost doors keys, the hour badly spent” connotative meaning is use because when relate with the entire poem the significance changes. At the end of the second stanza Bishop repeats the first sentence reaffirming her previous position. Third, fourth and fifth stanzas develop the definition of losing up to ridiculous terms. Also alliteration is use in the sentence “Then practice losing farther, losing faster:” presenting a smoothing rhyme. One key element of Bishop’s poem is repetition of words. Bishop repeats the words disaster and losing several times. For example, “that their loss is not disaster”, “None of these will bring disaster”, “but it wasn’t a disaster”, like convincing herself that losing is not a tragedy. The fifth stanza exemplify hyperbola at its best. The exaggerated statement of “I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent” prepares readers to the culmination of the poem. The break happens between the fifth and last stanza of the poem. At this point she elaborated the definition of losing from the basic things that are loss every day to things that cannot even be owned. Finally in the last stanza she admits that losing love is tragic. The poem not longer talks about losing material things or unrealistic ones. Now the poem takes a complete turn she is talking about “Even losing you”, a person. Another clear example uses images “(the joking voice, a gesture I love)” appealing to the sense of hearing and sight. The last sentence attest to the acceptance of losing a loved one as a tragedy “though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”, Bishop lastly admits. The poem has the sound and the tone of a prayer, because like prayers is use to reach for acceptance.

Bishop’s poem “One Art” does a perfect job denying the impact the sentiment of loss has in a person. All throughout the poem Bishop tries to convince herself that losing is part of life. Her argumentations are illogical in some sense and her tone tries to be unattached. Up until the last stanza her unattached tone does not allow her to admit that losing is has profound pain. Plenty of tools are use by Bishop in her poem some examples include: paradox, repetition, alliteration and hyperbole. Because denial fills most of the entire poem the end of it has a great impact on readers. The five first stanzas give governance to the last one. Even though she had tried to accept loss as part of an ordinary life, she ends up realizing how hard it is to face it.