How do I write something about the title of the poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop?

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To write something about the title of the poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop, it is best to first study the entire poem itself. In so doing, you will gain an understanding of what issue or issues the poet is addressing, and then you can see how her title fits the topics she talks about.

In “One Art," Elizabeth Bishop talks about the “art” of losing. The grand theme of this poem is loss. She states that loss and losing is something that “…isn’t hard to master.” 

In essence, she is saying that experiencing loss is something that happens with regularity in life and loss should come as no surprise to us. She is saying that we cannot always hold on to everything we have in life. This includes people, places, and possessions.

Bishop states that we can lose trivial, unimportant things, as well as very precious things, such as loved ones. The issue here in this poem is that we can learn to deal with the “art” of losing. The reader can now go back to the poem’s title to understand it better and then write about it.

The title “One Art” refers to properly dealing with situations and events involving loss in life. It is the individual who must be “artful” in dealing with loss. This artfulness is gained through multiple episodes of experiencing loss. Elizabeth Bishop says that one should “Then practice losing farther, losing faster.”

The goal here is for a person to confront loss head-on; to not be afraid of loss. Loss will come to all in various faces and configurations, and the more practice or experience we have with loss, the less disastrous loss will be each time. This is, however, a somewhat pie-in-the-sky observation by the poet because, no matter how experienced someone is at loss, the next loss still hurts and no one is really immune to the pain of loss.

So, as you write about the title of this poem, look at the particular phrases within the poem that relate to the title. Think of all the losses the poet has written about and how she says, “It’s evident / the art of losing’s not too hard to master.”

This is precisely the “One Art” she talks about and which made her use these particular words for the title of her poem. This is the “One Art” in life that we all can learn to deal with better – loss.

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