Sara Teasdale’s poem, “Barter,” consists of 3 stanzas with
a total of 18 lines. This poem conveys that the joys in life do outweigh the
sorrows. There is much more to live for when sorrow overcomes you; try not to
be overwhelmed by this, but do try to convince yourself that the happiness will
always overcome the sorrows.
The speaker tells us “life has loveliness to sell.” Indeed this is true. All around us are wonders on the world. From the simplest flower to the most magnificent tree, nature has create many “…beautiful and splendid things.” The speaker mentions the “blue waves whitened on a cliff,” the “scent of pine trees in the rain” and the “soaring fire that sways and sings.” When speaking of the fire, human qualities are given to it, because he/she describes it as rhythmically moving and singing. Imagery is put into our minds and personification is used. By doing this, the speaker could be trying to treat Mother Nature with more care, the care we would give another living person.
The speaker continues with the loveliness of “…children's faces looking up.” By using children as an example, the speaker is able to establish the purity and innocence of youth. In their eyes, “[they hold] wonder like a cup.” This wonder could refer back to the amazement they have for the Earth’s “…beautiful and splendid things.”
Prior to the third stanza, the tone of the poem has a nice, smooth touch to it. It is warm, gentle, and soothing to the soul. It is dreamy, enlightened, hopeful, loving, nostalgic, sentimental, and sympathetic. Then, the poem takes on a different voice. It becomes assertive and persuasive. The speaker wishes us to “spend all [we] have for loveliness.” Perhaps he/she believes modern society is taking nature for granted and becoming too reliant on technology and money. This idea continues with the speaker telling readers to “buy it and never count the cost.”
Sara Teasdale conveys deeper meaning by using poetic devices as well. This poem has an odd rhyme scheme to it (end rhymes) but it still acts the same way: ABCBDD AEFEGG HIJIKK. The first line of the poem, “Life has liveliness to sell” conveys not only one single poetic device, but three in total. This line has been repeated as the first line of the first two stanzas, which is known as repetition; euphony and alliteration can also be heard from that single phrase as well. Simile is also used in phrases like “Holding wonder like a cup” and “Music like a curve of gold.” Two opposites are used as well in the third and fourth lines of the poem: “Blue waves whitened on a cliff/soaring fire that sways and sings…”
Living in the Information Age, we tend to “barter” nature’s beauty, for less meaningful things, such as the pursuit of money and material possessions. In such a manner, we also take things for granted. With such justification, it is why we must “…give all you have been, or could be.”