Analysis of Poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop


  • Word Choice – Bishop’s word choice includes a variety of topics about losing things and how she views this process as an art.
  • Repetition – The repetition of “art”, “disaster” and “master” shows that Bishop views the thought of losing something ultimately as a disaster, but definitely can be dealt with over time.
  • Pronouns – Bishop uses “I” multiple times to illustrate how she feels about losing certain things that are personal to her. She then uses “you” once to illustrate her feelings about losing someone so close to her.


  • What is said – Bishop uses short and repetitive phrases throughout this poem. She gets to her point about losing trivial objects and how the loss becomes easier over time. She concludes with the loss of more important things like a loved one is more challenging.
  • What is not said – Bishop does not tell the reader who the person she lost is. This demonstrates that her loss of someone so loved is difficult; it is hard for her to mention him/her.

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  • Punctuation – The use of semicolons and colons allow to reader to ponder what Bishop states before she continues. The small use of exclamation points provides impact throughout this emotional poem. Finally, The use of periods wrap up her thoughts, adequately transitioning into her next thought about loss.

Figurative Language

  • Simile – An example of a simile in this poem is “the art of losing’s not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster” (18-19). Bishop is comparing losing something to a disaster.

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    This simile shows that she believes that losing, the more we do it, becomes easier despite it often appearing like a disaster. Yet losing someone is a different struggle to overcome.

  • Personification – An example of personification in One Art is “And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster” (13-15). Bishop claims she misses things like rivers and a continent, which are not human beings. She then tells the reader that her loss of these things was not so bad.
  • Other Areas – Symbolism – Bishop uses “art” as a symbol for loss. The reader, as a result, is shown how losing things is a process, that in due time, will become not so bad.


Bishop’s tone could be described as sentimental and yearning. Throughout One Art, she discusses losing possessions of a variety of personal, inanimate things like her mother’s watch, houses, land, etc. At the end, she mentions the loss of an unnamed person that was extremely close to her. The reader sees that she has lost many things in her life. The more she does it, the more masterful she gets over this so called art. The loss of a loved one is different; it is more of a challenge to lose someone you cherish so dearly. Ultimately, Bishop’s tone alludes to loss being unavoidable and something we all have to deal with.

Cite this page

Analysis of Poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from

Analysis of Poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop

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