She changes from second person to first person speaker. Her emotions are being revealed through the usage of adjectives to denote the importance those properties meant to her. Adjectives such as: Loved and lovely, reveal the poet’s emotions which are gradually disclosed all the way through the poem, although Bishop goes on denying the pain such loss represents by implying “but it wasn’t a disaster”(line 15). In the final stanza, the tone of the poem has shifted radically; it has become a sad one which exposes the truth behind the poem.
The poet is unable to put forward her intentions, it seem as if she is trying to surrender upon her denial of pain caused by the loss. She addresses a “you” and even uses the verb “love”, used to demonstrate the feeling that a certain gesture casts upon her. The loss of something so powerful as love has not yet been mastered. The real importance of this stanza relies in the usage of adverbs: “even losing you”, and “not too hard to master”(lines 16-18). The emphasis of such adverbs is carefully constructed in order to put forward the drama that reigns through the last stanza.
Syntax in the poem increases the growing tension. The loss of things suggested in the poem is used to support the idea that “the art of losing isn’t hard to master”. The poem opens up with the loss of insignificant things, these losses increase in importance and significance as the poem progresses, Bishop is trying to make the reader become familiar with “the art of losing”. By embracing loss, the poet takes control over the situation by deciding how she will master “the art of losing”, “a continent”, “two cities”(line 13) even a loved one, which is what she considers to be the biggest loss.
The usage of the imperative “write it”(line 19), shows the poet’s struggle in finishing the last line or even the struggle she goes through in trying to say what she wants. This poem is written in the form of a villanelle, Bishop ingeniously incorporates her writing into this form of poetic control to make evident the irony of mastering the “art of losing” throughout the poem. Bishop’s usage of repetitions confirms her refusal and denial of pain caused by the loss of something or someone. The intensity of this poem relies in the usage of language. Conclusion
As mentioned before, Elizabeth Bishop is able to project a message throughout her poem by means of language and poetical control; that is the successful usage of the villanelle used as a complement to her words and tone, although I attempt to say that the form of the poem is not in the structure itself but in the language. The poem is written following the structure of a villanelle, “a French form of writing composed of five triplet stanzas, with the last one being a quatrain, and the first and third lines of the first stanza strategically placed throughout the remainder of the poem”1.
Through the usage of this verse form, Bishop is able to portray the irony of mastering “the art of losing”. The first and third lines are repeated throughout the poem; such repetition seems to be consistent in terms of rhythm and meaning. The usage of certain conventions such as: tone, rhyme scheme and language (especially the variations of formal and colloquial language and adjectives) appeal to reveal the poets feelings throughout the slight variations of line repetition and language. In addition, the poem raises and ironic question about the loss o things in life taken as an art.
At the beginning of the poem not much is disclosed regarding intention and meaning, but as the reader goes through the poem, the major circumstances of meaning and intention become obvious. By means of the shifts in speakers, Bishop is able to intensify the meaning and intention of the poem; she starts the first three stanzas by using a second person speaker which addresses a reader by suggesting certain actions throughout imperatives. She begins the fourth stanza by shifting from a second person narrator into a first person speaker to intensify the poem’s meaning; by means of this the poet becomes involved in the poem making it personalized.
As a general principle, the poem’s major irony is that even the best and most enviable circumstances of life, referring to the loss of something or someone, contain inherent imperfections, such as pain and an unarticulated frustration that can be begotten by the loss of someone. Therefore, we can conclude by saying that mastering the “art of losing” is hard to master. The feeling caused by the loss of things can resemble ease in accepting the loss, whereas, in the last stanzas of the poem the loss refers to bigger rather significant things which go from personal things to people.
The contrasts relies in the loss itself, we as normal people are not ready or even prepared to lose the presence of people, therefore, the failure in the art of losing as mastery becomes evident.
Bibliography – Bishop Elizabeth, “One Art” in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume E. New York, Norton, 2007. pp. 2183- 2184 – Drabble, Margaret. The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. London, Oxford University Press, 1968. 1 Drabble, Margaret. The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. P. 590.