What is the tone in the poem Barter?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In the poem, "Barter," Sara Teasdale makes a list of some of the "beautiful and splendid things" that life offers "to sell" to us.  These include:

*"Blue waves whitened on a cliff"

*"children's faces looking up / Holding wonder like a cup"

*"Scent of pine trees in the rain"

*"Eyes that love you, arms that hold"

To "buy" these things, however, one must "pay" a steep price: "many a year of strife"--struggle and pain--must be paid in order to purchase "one white singing hour of peace."  Life is tough, but it is worthwhile to endure the troubles in order to catch an occasional "breath of ecstasy."

The tone of the poem's first two poems is ecstatic.  Only in the third stanza does the poet begin to discuss the difficulties of life.  Even this stanza, however, is optimistic, because it promises that although the price is high, "loveliness" is available in this world.

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