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One Art

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

Love Theme

People are capable of loving so many things. Seriously, think about it…we get attached to everything, from our childhood homes to favorite items of clothing to – dare we say it? – other people. We invest emotion all over the place, and when these things get lost, it hurts. This poem consciously avoids describing the pain of losing a beloved person or thing, but constantly seeks to remind us of just how much we care about the people, places, and things that populate our lives, and how much we may take them for granted.

Questions About Love

  1. How might you define love as it is shown in this poem?
  2. Are all of the lost items here beloved or precious things? What do they have in common?
  3. In the poem, the speaker loves things, places, and people. Is there a difference in her written reaction to their respective losses?
  4. How does love relate to disaster?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

While "One Art" is ostensibly about the art of losing things, it is actually a discussion of the difficulty of coming to terms with love.

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