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Cecily Garcia

Professor Huth

English 305 T/TH

March 24, 2017

Repetition

Poets use repetition often to have an impact on the reader, and they use the repetition

of specific lines to show the intensity of those emotions. Repetition of lines can also help

develop a pattern and aid in the development of the speaker. In William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet

73” uses the repetition of lines to create an emphasis on the speaker and his thoughts about his

life, and Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art” uses the repetition of lines to show the

imperfections and disorganization of life by disorganization of those repetition of lines. Taken

together both poems use repetition to highlight the themes, but also the deviation of the

pattern of the lines will bring light to the true meaning of the poems.

The use of line repetition sets the mood. For example, in the poem “Sonnet 73” written

by William Shakespeare, the speaker repeats the line “In thou see’st the twilight of such day”

(Line 5) and again “In thou see’st the glowing of such fire,” (Line 9) to indicate to the audience

the concept of comparing himself to time. By repeating “In thou see’st…” he is showing the

reader that this poem is about the speaker and sets a pattern to emphasize that your reflection

of him is important. This is a major factor because it helps us understand the poem and to find

what is highlighted because it carries a lot of meaning.

William Shakespeare shows another example of repetition of lines but uses them to

show a concept of time and the importance of how it correlates to his life. In the line, he states
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“As after sunset fadeth in the west;” (Line 6) and the line “As the deathbed whereon it must

expire,” (Line 11). He compares himself by using the word “As”, clearly using it to show that as

the lines progress the concept of time seems to become more urgent and as if the end is almost

near. By using the same word to compare but having different tones he displays that time is

moving fast on him. In line 6 he expresses time as a sunset, which typically takes a couple hours

for the light of the sun to fade into night. Then in Line 11 he shows the deathbed image and

uses the word “expire” which is more drastic. By using the repetition of the lines, he is showing

the urgency felt by the concept of time creeping up to him.

After creating this pattern of the repetition of lines he deviates the words to add the

true meaning of the Sonnet. In the couplet, “This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more

strong, / To love that well which thou must leave ere long.” Shakespeare shows the reader that

it is because his lover still adores him he knows that he has found true love. In the beginning of

the poem the reader through the repetition of lines is made to believe that the speaker is sad

that time is slipping away. Ultimately this changed when he altered the wording. Before he

spoke of “In thou see’st…” (Line 5) but now he is declaring “This thou perceiv’st…” (Line 13)

which signifies to the reader the meaning of the sonnet. As William Shakespeare using

repetition to show the buildup of time contrastingly, the order for which the repetition of the

lines can hold a great significance as well.

In the poem “One Art” (1978) Elizabeth Bishop uses the technique of repetition to

develop the theme of the poem. When Bishop states “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.” (Line 1-3) out

of the gate she is indicating what the poem is about, the art of losing. It is then emphasized
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again “Lose something every day. Accept the fluster/ of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. /

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” (lines 4-6) By reiterating the phrase “The art of losing

isn’t hard to master.” She is setting the tone and shows that the premise of the poem will be

about losing.

Although the repetition of the lines itself is important, the reader also picks up on the

form in which they are written. The appearance of the phrase “The art of losing isn’t hard to

master.” Changes with each stanza. In the first tercet, it appears in the first line. The second

tercet it appears in the third line, the third tercet it does not appear at all, and then appears

again in the fourth tercet on the third line. This shows that the author is intentionally changing

where they appear if they appear at all. They show that as the items become harder and harder

to lose, the form also becomes harder to read and relate.

After Bishop shows the reader that repetition is conveying a strong meaning of the idea

of loss, she also comes back at the end of the poem with the line “the art of losing’s not too

hard to master” (Line 18). Although it may seem like the other lines, Bishop adds the word

“too” to emphasize that losing is hard and it is inevitable. Part of life has major loss. This goes

with the theme that the motif of the poem is not revealed until the end when the write

deviated from its original form to intensify the emotion they have built throughout the poem.

By the authors showing repetition we can see the emphasis and change in meaning over

the course of the poem. William Shakespeare uses repetition to show how he encompasses

time and the love of his mistress, and Bishop uses repetition to bring to light the hardships of

loss. Without the precise repetition and importance behind the words the poems would not be

so impactful to the reader. It’s through the repetition is where we see the true meaning.
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Works Cited

Bishop, Elizabeth. “One Art” (1976)

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 73” (1609)