Do you think George Herbert is successful in coveying a moral in the poem "Avarice"?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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George Herbert's poem "Avarice" is an ode to money. Not only does it praise it, but it also condemns it. It both empowers it and belittles it, and shows the positive and the negative of what money represents as well as what it can do and what it can undo.

One thing that is salient in the depiction of money as a source of happiness and pain is evident in the first stanza of the poem, which reads.

Money, thou bane of bliss, and source of woe, 
Whence com'st thou, that thou art so fresh and fine? 
I know thy parentage is base and low: 
Man found thee poor and dirty in a mine.

By describing money as something that merely serves as a bridge between having and not having, Herbert is effective at taking away the lure and myth that many people put over money and to see it for what it really is: A symbol, not a status. It is a token, not a privilege. Money is just that: Money. It can be nothing else unless there is human agency in the process. Other than that, money is worthless. We are who give money its value.  

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