LOSS IN “ONE ART” BY ELIZABETH BISHOP AND “A TEMPORARY MATTER” BY JHUMPA LAHIRI
The theme of loss is associated with detachment from something that you love dearly. This may range from simple things such as toys and kid stuffs to complex issues such as grief arising from the death of a family member, relative or friend. In the poem, “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, the persona admits that the art of mastering how to overcome loss over something that you loved is not hard because the things that you so hold dear onto is already filled with the intent to be lost. On the hand, according to Jhumpa Lahiri’s, “A Temporary Matter” loss is depicted in many ways including through the loss of life, end of a happy marriage, and the effect of small things such as work, dinner plans and dentist appointments in our lives. In truism, loss plays a critical role in shaping the lives of individuals and it all depends on how you react to it in order to move on. The two literature works by Elizabeth Bishop and Jhumpa Lahiri are classical examples of how loss can lead to grief and how at the same time its acceptance can lead to a different lifestyle free of stress.
The short story, “A Temporary Matter” grief is evident throughout the story following the death of Shukumar and Shoba’s first child. It is clear that both couples are disturbed by the death to the extent that Shukumar seldom leaves the house. He stays in the house the whole day long and does not mind about making progress on his dissertation. His lifestyle changes and he even notices the change himself when he is quoted saying that, “He ran his tongue over the tops of his teeth; he’d forgotten to brush them that morning. It wasn’t the first time. He hadn’t left the house at all that day, or the day before.” His wife on the other hand, tries her best to stay away from home as it reminds her of her loss. She gives up the duties of housekeeping and cooking which she was good at to console herself. According to Shukumar, Shoba has completely ignored her roles in the kitchen and treats the house like a hotel. In this story, the narrator shows how Shukumar and Shoba’s marriage deteriorate and can never socially entertain themselves following the death of their child. It is, therefore, clear that loss of life and the small interesting things that complete a marriage can lead to grief and distortion of the same marriage.
In the poem, “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, the persona’s message is that we should familiarize with losing as it is not hard to master. According to her, we should be ready to lose something on a daily basis whether it is the door keys or time spent badly in order to live a life free of stress. In essence, you can avoid losing something by avoiding to partake in an action. For example, you can avoid loss associated with travelling by making the choice to lose the chance of travelling at that particular time. Embracing loss is the key to other forms of success.
From the precedent, People who loss important persons in their lives feel like they no longer want to go on living themselves. They may lack the necessary motivation to carry on with the day-to-day activities of life. Just like in the short story, “A Temporary Matter” and especially in Shukumar’s case, loss brings about sadness which may drive away all the reasons for joy and positive emotions.
Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.