summary and theme of the poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop

In this article, I have explained the summary, theme, and critical appreciation of the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. This poem is included in the syllabus of the Punjab University of B. Students. I have also given the Reference to context. 

One Art by (Elizabeth Bishop)


“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop is a very interesting poem. The poem is based on different ideas and philosophies. Generally, we become depressed and sad the loss of things that are dear to us. The poetess is of the view that life does not come to an end with the loss of things. She says that losing things and facing boldly the loss is an art. It is not difficult to master this art. If we succeed in mastering this art, we can attain peace of mind.

The poetess says that the art of losing is not hard to master. There may be things of great importance that we do not want to lose. But even if we lose them, it does not bring about any disaster. She suggests that we should start losing things of little importance such as door keys. Then we should keep losing things regularly.

Gradually, we shall develop the habit of losing things. She says that she lost the watch that was a token of love for her mother. She lost two cities with the scenes she liked. She also lost the two houses that were dear to her. But no disaster occurred. Finally, she addresses her lover. She that even if she has to lose him for some reason, it will be no disaster, though it may look so.

The poetess wants to say that we should remain ready to face losses in life. 

Critical Appreciation of the Poem “One Art”

Elizabeth Bishop led a tragic life. She lost her father when she was a small girl and her mother had to spend her life in a mental institution. This left a tragic influence on her mind. She started writing poems at a very early age. Her poetry contains the color of tragedy and pessimism. She is not disturbed at the loss of material things. She treats the loss of small or great things in an ironic and half-humorous manner.

The poem “One Art “trains us in the art of losing things. The poetess suggests that it is the loss of things that disturbs us. We should not feel sad at the loss of material things. We should bear the loss of costly as well as ordinary things with a brave heart. There are several things that have a tendency to get lost or misplaced. Their disappearance should not perturb us. In order to be skillful in the art of losing, we must lose one thing daily. We should not feel restless at the loss of door deys or the loss of time badly spent, these small losses, Will prepare us to face heavy disasters of life.

The poetess suggests that we should go on losing things faster and more rapidly. We must try to forget the name of places and people we have seen. This will dispel our fear of facing losses. The poetess happens to lose her mother’s watch. She forgets the name of the three houses where she has stayed and lived. She states that the loss of important things does not bring ruin her. She is not perturbed about the loss of her love, loving voices, and happy gestures. She bears all these losses with courage because she has become skillful in the art of losing things.

The poem is written in a mocking and half-humorous manner. The poetess treats a serious subject in a non-serious manner. But the message of the poem is clear. A man should not lose heart in face of hardships. He should produce in him a spirit of acceptance and resignation. The ordinary tragic incident and the greatest disaster should be faced without any fear. The art of losing means to live life hoping for the best and to be ready to face the worst.

Reference to the contest:



These lines have been borrowed from the poem “One Art “Written by Elizabeth Bishop.


In this poem, the poetess advises us to be patient and calm at the loss of material things. Life is full of pains, losses, and hardships. We can overcome the pains and problems of life if we can exercise patience over our small losses. She has talked about her personal losses in a funny manner in this poem. In the lines quoted above, she tries to convince us that the art of losing things is not very difficult. we should try to lose things daily and should not feel sad about it.


Q1. Bring out the elements of satire, humor, and irony in the poem. How they are combined to achieve the impact desired by the poet?


 Elizabeth Bishop presents her views concerning the acceptance and forgetfulness of occasional losses. The oblivion of loss saves us from mental tension and restlessness. The art of losing helps us inculcate a spirit of acceptance and resignation.

This is an appreciable idea, no doubt but it has been explained in an ironic and amusing manner. The poetess has adopted a satirical tone to emphasize the importance of social indifference. She has strongly advocated the habit of bearing all kinds of losses with a stout heart and smiling face. But the list of personal losses suffered by her is quite ridiculous.

 she says that if her door key is lost, she accepts it as a natural thing and does not feel perturbed. She tells us mockingly that she does not bother if she losses the memory of the places visited the persons met by her or the houses she had been inhabiting. Similarly, she does not feel sad when she lost the watch of her mother. She enjoys the memory of two beautiful continents. But she generously. slip out of her mind and bears their loss with a smiling face. She is even prepared to lose the enjoyable jokes and pleasing gestures of her dear friend.

the poetess tells us humorously that in order to become perfect in the art of losing. We should make it a policy of life to lose something daily. We should start with the loss of little things and gradually come to bigger losses. She concludes that the loss of a few things in our possession will not bring any disaster. 

She says that by losing a few things heaven will not fall, and we shall continue living as before. Thus the humorous examples given by the poetess and the ironic and satirical tone adopted by her makes the poem quite enjoyable.

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