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One Art by Elizabeth Bishop (Summary & Analysis)

One Art Elizabeth Bishop Summary Translation Review

In the poem, “One Art”, the poetess advocates that to live in this world successfully, one must have the patience and courage to bear the loss of all things. In this respect, we can be sure that it is not difficult to train oneself to bear the loss of different things. We should not be over agitated and confused at the loss of things, time, people, places, and possessions of all kinds, whatsoever.

The poetess has quoted her own example to have lost her mother’s watch and then change of three houses one after the other. If we change our attitude we can face the worst conditions of life, and nothing can discourage us in the world. Moreover, one should be convinced that all the calamities could be borne. Nothing is disastrous in the world. According to the poetess, one of the most important arts for successful living in this world is to bear the loss of things that get lost. (One Art)

The poetess has suggested several measures to overcome the loss of various things. She tells that although there are many things whose loss may be shocking for us we must convince ourselves that whatsoever the loss, we will not be ruined completely. We should realize that time is the best healer and man can make up small or big losses with the passage of time. She tells that adopting a healthy attitude to accept loss is not difficult.

The poetess has given her own example that she lost her mother’s watch. She had to suffer mental agony and torture for changing three houses one after the other, but she bore the shock of loss.

We should accept the loss of the door key, the time wasted the loss of people and places, realms, and continents. The basic understandable fact is that the losses can be borne. No one dies with the loss and there is no unusual disaster. One may ever bear the loss of beloved persons which apparently may seem a great disaster. Though it is a great disaster for the time being, with the passage of time man can overcome all kinds of grief.

Explanation with Reference

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
So many things seem filled with the intent
To be, lost that their loss is no disaster

This is awkwardly a lovely poem in which Elizabeth Bishop artistically gives a formula of leading a happy life. She has given a lesson of contentment and resignation in a polite, simple, and ironic way. life is mingled yarn of good and evil, gain and loss, happiness and sadness. She, therefore, tells us that the disaster brought by losing trivial or precious things should be faced without shedding tears. In the given lines, the mood of the poetess is humorous and ironic. She comes forward with an idea that we should train ourselves to understand the harsh realities of life.

We should not lose heart over the losses of common things. She opines that there are many things in our surroundings, which can give us the message that their loss is no disaster. Their loss rather produces a healthy impact on us. We shall be able to learn how to ace bereavements boldly. It will also instill a sense of contentment and resignation. Such exercise of losing things will not produce uneasiness and misfortune for us.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look; my last, or
Next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master

In order to develop tolerance, the poetess gives an example of her own experience. Once she lost the watch of her mother. One can well imagine that things given by elders are very near and dear to younger. Mother’s watch is no less than a souvenir for her but she lost it and it did not bring any painful plight for her. She also experienced her dear ones who left three houses forever. Such experienc3 did not throw her in neck or nothing situation. Therefore, losses of such places, persons, and things should be faced with smiling faces. Art of losing is not beyond the understanding of man, says the poetess.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster
Some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent
I miss them but it wasn’t a disaster

In the given lines, the mood of the poetess is quite humorous. In a non-serious manner, she gives another example of overcoming disturbing elements due to forgetfulness. It is understandable and we agree with her that in our daily life, we get something and we lose something. We get information about something and forget the other thing. This process does not bring any disaster for us. We should, therefore, develop the habit of forgetting things deliberately. She very beautifully says that she forgets the lovely cities, realms, rivers, and continents but nothing went wrong. WE should also inculcate the same attitude in ourselves. Such elements will bring no problem for us; it will rater enable us to have solace in such anxiety ridden conditions.

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