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Elizabeth Bishop

             In 1916, a young child was forced in to reality when her mother was permanently admitted into an insane asylum. Unfortunately, the child could seek no solace in her father because he died the year she was born. Left with no choice, she went to live with grandparents that she could not relate to. Despite these misfortunes, she eventually became one of the most famous poets that America ever produced. This poet is Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop's poetry is a compilation of her personal life experiences, her intimate knowledge of distant lands, and her uncanny perception of beauty.
             Although Bishop had a successful writing career, her personal life was full of traumatic events. Beginning with her mother's hospitalization, Elizabeth developed a serious case of asthma that plagued her all of her life. On top of this, she suffered from chronic alcoholism and a liking for anti-depressant drugs. The final blow came when Bishop's lover, Maria Carlota Costellat de Macedo Soares, committed suicide in 1967. It is safe to say that Elizabeth experienced enough tragedy to fill volumes of poetry; nonetheless, she was not a "confessional poet." Elizabeth subtly included these life experiences in her poetry. Her poem "One Art" is an example of this subtlety.
             "One Art" is a poem about dealing with loss. Presumably, the speaker is Bishop herself. Throughout "One Art," Bishop tells of her life experiences. In the second line, Bishop says: "so many things filled with the intent / to be lost that their loss is no disaster" (Bishop, lines 2-3). The word "seemed" is past tense, subtly suggesting that Bishop had much experience dealing with loss. More of Bishop's experiences are revealed later in the poem when she writes, "I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, / some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. / I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster" (13-15). It seems that Bishop is willing to admit that she is sad about some of these losses, although they were not too important.

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