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Word Count: 793
Elizabeth Bishops poem One Art tries to teach the reader how to deal with loss The off-handed and ironic method of speech within the blank verse is natural sounding and deceptively informal given the formal requirements of the lyric The poem is a villanelle which is French but stems from Italian folk song Like all villanelles it has nineteen lines divided into six stanzas - five tercets and one quatrain - turning on two rhymes and built around two refrains The first and third lines rhyme throughout as do the middle lines of each stanza The first and third lines become the refrain of alternate stanzas and the final two lines of the poem As the tercets progress Bishop modifies the verse to suit her own needs The first line - The art of losing isnt hard to master - repeats exactly throughout the poem whereas the second refrain never repeats in its initial form and modulates entirely around the word disaster It also combines feminine or multi syllabic rhymes such as master and disaster with masculine or one-syllable rhymes such as spent and meant skillfully varying its full or exact rhymes with half-rhymes such as fluster and master Bishop also runs an enjambed line into an end-stopped one as in the fourth stanza And look my last or next-to-last of three loved houses went This creates a sense of hesitation to go forward and momentary rest What is most recognizable is that she starts small and continually enlarges the losses beginning with insignificant things - the door keys the wasted hour - and moving up from there The third stanza provides the essential clue as to how we are comprehend and consequently to interpret this poem Then practice losing farther losing faster she writes signifying that the losses are going to progress going farther coming more quickly It is worse to give up places and names and where it was you meant
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