"One Art" Analysis

781 words - 4 pages

In her poem, "One Art," Elizabeth Bishop constructs a poem that reveals a struggle with mastering the issue of loss. Through the use of a villanelle, Bishop utilizes the significance of structure and word choice to further the meaning of her work. Bishop crescendos each stanza to create a firm foundation for the dramatic conclusion, and incorporates expressive words throughout the poem to illuminate the last stanza's attitude shift from that of carelessness to seriousness.The villanelle form is a type of love poem and Elizabeth Bishop's use of this is appropriate for her poem about lost love. The first five tercets (three lined stanzas) begin by speaking of small objects (keys) then grow to ...view middle of the document...

The simple shift from the third stanza to the fourth allow for a more personal touch to the poem with the addition of the word "I." Bishop chooses the "mother's watch" to symbolize time and the link between generations. The lost watch makes tangible the feeling of inevitable loss. The speaker also sequences her losses- "my last"/ "next-to-last." Stanza five is the final tercet that includes materialistic items lost by the speaker. The loss of spacious and lavishing objects such as "cities"/ "realms," "rivers," and "continents" can not compare to the feelings the speaker acquires from the loss of love in stanza six.The final stanza, the quatrain, contains an attitude shift from that of invincibility to somberness. By implementing "you," Bishop transformed the poem into a personal piece by breaking away from the pattern of inanimate objects and incorporating an actual being. Although the tone is of a more personal nature the details are still muffled. The parenthesis around "(the joking voice, a gesture/ I love)"...

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