What is the tone of the poem "Avarice"?

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Tone refers to the author's feeling about his or her subject, and avarice is another word for extreme greed. Avarice, or greed, is certainly not a quality that most people or cultures prize, and so the description of the girl in the poem is told with a disapproving, even judgmental tone. The details about her childhood actions—chewing off buttons and hiding them or hoarding a peach until it went bad—could be overlooked as childish selfishness. But admiring the beauty of her little brother's bug collection and then burying it in the dirt has a more malicious feel. Now, as an adult, she "counts [her] eight engagement rings / At least twelve times each day," and this shows that she doesn't care at all about the feelings of those people who proposed to her, whose hearts she may well have broken because all she does care about is the value of the rings she acquires from each one. This escalation of events and callousness and avarice conveys the author's tone of disdain and judgment.

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For a poem about money and the evil woes it has helped heap upon mankind, the tone of the poem is fairly light.  It sort of resembles a whimsical retelling of some past event, kind of like when your grandparents say something like, "Back in my day we had to . . ."  

Being written in the past tense immediately helps create this tone.  If the poem were written in present tense, the tone might sound much more accusatory.  The past tense makes the poem feel much more reflective. 

The opening two lines especially help with the light, whimsical tone.  The alliteration used in line 1 with "bane of blisse" and line 2's "fresh and fine" show the reader that Donne is having a little fun with the poem.  He is writing about a very serious topic, but does it in a way that sounds like teasing and mocking instead of screaming and threatening.  

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