Why is the poem's title "Barter" appropriate?  

The title is appropriate in that the poet contrasts what money can buy, as in goods or services, with what cannot be bought with money, as in loveliness. In a rhetorical question, the writer asks a question of their audience. They did not ask a real question but rather posed a statement that they are attempting to have their audience evaluate and respond to. An easy way to identify this is when you see the word "why" at the beginning of a sentence. The rhetorical question used in Sara Teasdale's poem "Barter" gives examples of things that cannot be gotten with money because they appear in nature or human creative products or are emotions. The author gives an example of imagery throughout her poem.

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Sara Teasdale ’s speaker draws a contrast between that which can be obtained with money, using “buy” and “sell,” and that which can only be had by “gift,” or non-monetary exchange. Although the title is “barter,” the poet does not use the word in the poem. Rather, she has the...

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Sara Teasdale’s speaker draws a contrast between that which can be obtained with money, using “buy” and “sell,” and that which can only be had by “gift,” or non-monetary exchange. Although the title is “barter,” the poet does not use the word in the poem. Rather, she has the speaker provide examples of things that cannot be gotten with money because they appear in the natural world or human creative products, or are emotions.

The natural , the creative, and the emotional are tightly linked, not separated, in the concept of “loveliness” that appears in the first line of all three stanzas. They are connected as beholding or experiencing one leads to the other. In Stanza 1, “waves” and “fire” are compared to the “wonder” in “children’s faces . . . ” In Stanza 2, “music” is introduced, linking the “scent of pine trees” to “love” and “delight.”

In Stanza 3, however, the poet abandons the natural and speaks only of the emotional value of such exchanges. An “hour of peace,” will counterbalance an entire “year of strife; a “breath of ecstasy” is worth “all you have been, or would be.” When it comes to “loveliness,” the listener should not hold back, but rather, “Spend all you have . . . ”

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Barter” is an appropriate title for Sara Teasdale’s poem based on the definition of the word. Barter means to exchange goods or services in kind, or to haggle over the price of something. Life is a bartering session.

The author explains that there is wonder to be had in the world. She uses repetition of the line “Life has loveliness to sell” at the beginning of the first two stanzas. Then she lists the natural wonders of waves crashing on rocks, the crackling fire, the scent of the woods, and the look of wonder on a child’s face. These things, she says are worth hard work. But in the end, she implores the reader to understand it is okay to give all that you have for that one moment of great ecstasy. She is saying that in life you have to give to get (that is, to barter) even though many of the best things are free. In essence, you barter your time and efforts to reap life’s rewards.

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