One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

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What was the Poem About?

One Art addresses the matter of loss in an appearance of simplicity even though it is quite complicated and can be one of the hardest things in life. As the poem continues , the extent of the losses increases. In the beginning it is "accept the fluster

of lost door keys..." and it slowly increases to "I lost two cities...". With the easy going tone throughout the poem it may not be recognized at first the seriousness behind what she is actually talking about. You can tell the emotional impact the writing of the poem had on the author when she says, "Even losing you." She uses the poem as a way to cope with what she has lost, even throughout her entire life. From the small things, to the bigger picture.

Question: What does the title mean?

Why would she use the title One Art instead of something else and how that affects the meaning of the poem?

  • There is an art in losing and an art in writing poems. The title mixes the two together. So essentially: One Art means that the poem and losing can be equal in importance and feeling.
  • She reflects on her own losses in life from the simplest things to the most extravagant using her art, her poetry.
  • Although loss is a difficult thing to do with it can build many traits that other experiences might not: patience, empathy, etc.
  • Loss is an art in and of itself.


Therefore, it is concluded that the reason Bishop uses that title is to show the relationship between the art of loss, the art of poetry and the art of creating your own coping mechanisms to loss. Bishop intertwines her poetry and her loss from the smallest things to the largest things. At the end of her poem she writes, " (Write it!)" She is giving a suggestion to not the readers, but to herself. In that final line, "It’s evident the art of losing’s not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster." She interrupts her thoughts to state that. She explains that using art to overcome such a thing as loss will make it easier to cope with.