"One Art" Summary and Critical Analysis, a poem by Elizabeth Bishop
"One Art", the poem by Elizabeth Bishop, leads us to several conclusive statements that are the indirect lessons taught by the poetess. The lesson is that one must be contented and thankful to God Almighty in all circumstances. We are always striving either for one thing or the other; we often fail to achieve in life, such failures hurt us and cast gloom over us. The poetess wishes to communicate that life is yet another name of continuous decay and losing; therefore, the best plan is to resign before fate. This would earn contentment in return.
The poetess tells us that "the art of losing isn't hard to master" because she has a step by step guide in explaining the path to successful losers. Well, 'successful losers' means the ones that don't grudge against fate and always keep a distinction between what can be saved and where one must not waste one's energies in mere grumbles and complaints before the Almighty. The lesson is that of being suppliant without showing any sort of resentment at events that are doomed to be.
The poetess asks us to treat our day to day losses and frustrations without any panic and confusions. She relates that she began by losing smaller things. Similarly, she advises us to "lose something every day" and accept the "fluster of lost door keys". Doesn't it sound strange to advise somebody to lose something regularly and then "practice losing farther" and practice "harder". Well, it is not the real advice 'to lose' rather the advice is not to take your losses to the heart.
Man is born to lose no matter what level of efforts he tries to put in. William Shakespeare's "All The World's a Stage" is an excellent demonstration of the same theme. Man is the ultimate loser if he is sensitive to the losses. The poetess relates that she lost her mother's watch, her beloved houses, her country and even the continent she lived. She lost it all but she does not seem to take them as losses to her life. She knows that time is very cruel and we cannot but add to our wounds by scratching them.
The message by the poetess is loud and clear i.e. be contented and thankful to God Almighy and be peaceful. We cannot do anything when the fortune has taken our precious valuable things and beings without our consent to it. We may weep and cry to no avail. Our grief may only hurt ourselves in the long run. Therefore, the only thing advised by this religious-social poem is to remain thankful to God in all circumstances. The poetess has described the minutes to the grandeur of losses in losing her "mother's watch" to the loss of her mother.
She says that her attitude of gratitude and obedience to the God Almighty have earned her a strong temperament that even while losing her love, "a joking voice, a gesture I love" she has not lied. She does not want to treat it as a disaster though it "might look like a disaster".