One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

About the poet

Elizabeth Bishop (February 08, 1911 - October 06, 1979) was an Evangelist nun and a celebrated poetess was born in the U.S.A. She graduated from Vassar College and began writing and traveling. 

Her book of poems, North & South got her the title of poet laureate of the United States, and its later edition got the Pulitzer Prize, in 1956. Her work includes poems In the Waiting Room and One Art, the short story In the Village and verse collection Geography III.

Bishop switched to poetry during her stay in Vassar College. She studied English at Vassar College where she took courses including 16th and 17th-century literature and the novel. 

She published her first collection in the college magazine. Bishop was intensely inspired by the poet, Marianne Moore, to whom she was introduced by a librarian at Vassar in 1934. 

She loved to visit different places and used to explore their exotic cultures which also appeared in her major works such as North and South. Two years after publishing her last book, Geography Ill (1977), she died of a cerebral aneurysm in 1979.

Main Idea/ Theme of the One Art / Critical Aspects


The poem, One Art is written by a famous modern American poetess Elizabeth Bishop. In this poem, she advises us to accept life with all its pains, problems, and hardships. She trains us through this poem the art of losing things. According to her, the art of losing things is, in fact, the art of acceptance and resignation.

She gives some examples to prove her point of view. She says that she herself has lost the keys, names of places, watch of her mother, cities, provinces, kingdom, and the company of dearest friends. 

She remembers them for the charms but controls her passions. She is not upset at their loss. She advises the readers that they should bear the loss of different things with a brave heart. In order to be skillful in the art of losing, one must lose one thing daily.

Theme or moral lesson of the poem

Elizabeth Bishop teaches us a moral lesson through this poem. Our life is full of pains, troubles, losses, disasters, and success. She believes that life is full of hardships and miseries. The art of accepting difficulties is not difficult but requires patience and resignation. 

We should overcome the problems of life if we want to live a peaceful life. We should not be sad over the loss of things. She repeats the basic theme of the poem again and again, that one must be mastered in the art of losing.

Style of the Poetess

In, this poem, the style of poetess is descriptive and realistic. Through her simple language, she has explained a serious, sensible, and worldly-wise message. She is actually mocking the nature of those people who over their small losses.


This poem is criticism and satire on those people who consider themselves wise and intelligent and do not want to lose anything. They think that they are such people who will not lose anything in their lives. But when they lose anything they become sad and remain in sorrowful condition. The poetess humorously points out their foolish nature.

Use of Irony

The first line of this poem is ironic, Tho art of losing isn't hard to master, If we analyze this statement, we can say that she is saying the art of losing thing is very difficult A person cannot be mastered in losing of things easily But the poetess in an ironic manner advises us that the art of losing things is not a difficult art. It is very easy to learn.


Stanza 1

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.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

Of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Reference and Context

This stanza has been taken from the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. In her poem One Art, Elizabeth Bishop advises us to learn and master the art of losing.

She claims that learning such an art is not a difficult task. We should not be sad over the loss of things. We should build a spirit of acceptance as well as resignation. This attitude will make life easy and joyful.


In these lines, the poetess claims that the art of losing is not difficult to learn. She says that we must learn this art. If we have such an art, the loss of things will bring no trouble for us. 

She recommends that we should lose things on purpose, in order to master the art of losing. We should not be uneasy and restless due to the confusion caused by the loss of door keys or the loss of time badly spent.

We should try to bear the loss with a brave heart. If we overcome such initial losses, we shall be able to face the greater loss easily.

Stanza 2

Then practice losing farther, losing faster,

Places and names and where it was you went.

To travel none of these will bring disaster.

Reference and Context

Same as in the first stanza.


In these lines, the poetess humorously advises us to get perfection in the art of losing. She says that we should lose bigger and more expensive things frequently and quickly. 

If we forget the names of the people and places. It should not cause us any anxiety. This act of forgetting will not bring any destruction to our lives. We can easily bear such common losses if we do not complain. 

Stanza 3

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.

Reference and Context

Same as in the first stanza.


In these lines, the poetess describes her own experiences of life. She quotes her personal experiences that she has lost the precious watch gifted to her by her late mother. She has also lost one of the three houses that were very dear to her.

Now she has managed to reconcile herself to the loss. She took all these losses with a smile on her face. She overcame these losses very successfully. Hence the art of losing is not very difficult to practice in life. These little losses do not cause a completely healthy and happy life.

Stanza 4

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.

Reference and Context

Same as in the first stanza


In these lines, the poetess tries to produce in us a spirit of patience. She says that she has lost two beautiful cities as well as some vast kingdom including two rivers and a continent. 

These cities were the part of her life and she always remembers their beauties and enchanting sites, but this loss does not bring disaster in her life. She is leading a peaceful life without them. She feels the absence of these things and remembers them fondly, but these losses do not bother her.

Stanza 5

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident

The art of losing's not too hard to master

Though it may look like (Write it) like disaster.

Reference and Context 

Same as for the first stanza


The poetess has expressed lofty ideas in a humorous manner. She claims that she is so perfect in the art of losing that she can easily and happily lose her lover, his loving voice, and happy gestures. 

She can overcome even the greatest loss because she has mastered the art of losing. Although her losses appear fatal and killing yet she believes that with the help of art of losing one can face and bear such losses too.

Although her ideas do not seem practicable yet they are thought-provoking and can help us in facing the greatest challenges of life with a brave heart.

Important Questions and Answers

Question 1

The poetess Elizabeth Bishop in her poem 'One Art' stresses upon the reader to learn the art of losing things. Do you agree with her?


Do you agree with the poetess that the art of losing is not hard to master? How can we master this art?


How can we master the art of losing? Discuss. 


One Art is the art of losing: How can we master this art? Explain.


The poetess has repeated the line the art losing isn't hard to master four times in the poem. She advises us that the most trifling incidents and the greatest disasters should be faced without tears. 

The art of losing prepares us to face difficulties with a smiling face. Her tone and attitude are mocking, non-serious, and frivolous but the message is serious, sane, and sensible. 

We agree with the poetess that the art of losing is not hard to master because it is not only an art. It is just a careless attitude towards life. Life is full of hardships, obstacles and losses. 

Only our careless attitude can escape us from them. For example, the loss of near and dear ones or the precious objects cannot be faced as easily and lightly as the poetess claims. 

But the question is, what we can do for the losses over which we have no control? The wise answer is that we should learn to forget them. Is there any best way except it? We should have acceptance and resignation. 

This will prove better for us. We can be mastered in this art easily if we face the bitter realities of life with a stout heart. We should never forget that through suffering. The art of losing prepares us to bear with the greatest loss easily.

Question 2

Bring out the elements of satire, humor, and irony in the poem.


In her poem One Art, Elizabeth Bishop has beautifully explained the elements of satire, humor, and irony. These elements are given below one by one.


The poetess satirizes those people who become sad over the loss of petty things or forget names. They ruin their health and happiness. They cannot give up this habit. She wants to tell the people that they should not panic at the loss of trivial things.


The humor in the poem is harmless. When she addresses her lover and tells him that she won't find it difficult to live with his loss. Here she seems to be bluffing. She is only being humorous to increase the appeal of her poem.
We simply laugh at that time when poetess says that a person should lose one thing every day. We also laugh at such a person who learns the art of losing things by practice.


Irony means the difference between appearance and reality. The poetess says The art of losing isn't hard to master. If we analyze this statement, we can say that she is saying the art of losing things is very difficult. A person cannot be mastered in the art of losing things easily. 

In an ironic way, the poetess tells us that the art of losing things is not difficult. A person can learn this art easily. In short from beginning to end, the poem is full of the elements of satire, humor, and irony. 

Question 3

According to the poetess, losses cannot bring any you agree? 

What is the central idea or basic theme of the poem "Ono Art" by Elizabeth Bishop?


In this poem, the poetess has discussed a very important and serious theme but the attitude is somewhat mocking and non-serious. She has urged us to learn and master the art of losing things. We should produce in us a spirit of acceptance and resignation. 

The less cf the door keys or loss of an empire should be accepted with a smile on our face. It is only in this way that the loses its bitterness and we form a healthy attitude to face the odds of our life is full ci pains, troubles, losses disasters and success. 

She believes that life is full of hardships and miseries- The art of accepting difficulties is not difficult but requires patience end resignation. We should overcome the problems of life if we want to live a peaceful life. 

We should not be sad over the loss of things. The poetess advises us to lose something everyday end then develop the courage to tolerate it. Sometimes we feel grieved end ruined over little losses and make our life miserable. 

But if we make it a habit to lose and not care about it, it would develop in us a healthy approach towards the ups and downs of life. The poem carries a message. It teaches us  that we should practice losing things quickly and frequently.
We should not cry over the loss of petty losses. We can live happier and in our life if we are masters in the art of losing.


Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post