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"One Art" Essay

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Every person loses sometimes. In Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art," Bishop displays her accepting attitude to losing. Using verse form and language, Bishop is able to express her different feelings about losing. Because of her experiences with loss, the poet is able to express her attitude towards loss.

Throughout the poem, verse form plays an important role in Elizabeth Bishop's description of losing. Every tercet from lines 1 to 15 helps to describe that the speaker "[loses] something everyday." Through the repetition of "master" and "disaster" in the first five tercets, Bishop creates a tolerant mood. Following the verse form of a villanelle, the poet abruptly changes the mood in the last quatrain. Instead of letting her accepting mood prevail through the entire poem, Bishop changes her tone into one of agony. By contrasting what does and does not bring "disaster," the speaker shows that "losing isn't hard to master." This refrain is seen in every other stanza and serves as a reminder that losing is easy. While Bishop comments on the fact that it is easy to lose, she explains situations that would not bring a "disaster." Only in the last stanza does the poet finally admit to the fact that there are things that "may look like...disaster[s]." Through verse form, the writer is able to expound on her compliant attitude towards losing.

Not only does verse form contribute to the description of Elizabeth Bishop's feelings towards losing, but language also has a role in elaborating on her feelings. Through the entire poem, words such as "lose," "lost," and "miss" help to show the accepting attitude the poet feels about losing. The speaker loses small items such as "door keys" all the way to large items such as "a continent" all of which do not cause damage. In the last stanza, Bishop's mood changes when



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