In order for one to understand “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop her opening lines, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster” (lines 1-3) provide the foundation for the whole poem. Due to the fact that there are so many things that are intended to be lost it shouldn’t seem so disastrous when they are truly lost, but somehow it still is a disaster
The irony of this statement is shown by the combination of both the opening as well as the closing lines of the poem. In the opening lines it seems to say that when something follows in its natural path, its intent, it’s no longer qualified as a disaster and shouldn’t be viewed as a disaster. However, in the poems closing lines which state, “Even losing you…Its evident the art of losing’s not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster” (lines 16-19), are defiantly contradicting with the opening lines. I believe this is because the narrator is trying to convince themselves that the truth of the paradox is not a disaster to loose someone if that person intended to be lost.
The progression of increased value of “things” lost continues to contribute to the poem’s paradoxical meaning by beginning with items of little value such as “time, places, and names, and even lost door keys,” eventually increasing to things of a greater value such as “mothers watch, houses, cities, rivers, and even an entire continent.” Eventually ending with a loss of what was most valued which in the end happened to be a person. (lines 5,8,10,11,13,14,16). This shows that the narrator is trying to desensitize themselves to loss. For example, they consider all of the other losses in their life that were not “disasters” it would make the loss of this person not a disaster but paradoxically it still is disastrous.