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by Sara Teasdale

Wheelin' and Dealin'

Symbol Analysis

Life drives a pretty hard bargain in "Barter." He's overstocked on loveliness, but he's keeping the prices up. What's more, Teasdale thinks we should buy anyway. A sound financial move? Perhaps not. But part of what makes this poem interesting is this extended metaphor of life as a salesman peddling loveliness.

  • Line 1: In the very first line, Teasdale sets up this extended metaphor of life as a salesman. He's got some product, loveliness, and he wants to sell it to us. You buyin'?
  • But wait. There's more. This extended metaphor relies on another tricky little piece of figurative language, personification
  • Teasdale gives"Life," well, a life. She gives the idea of Life the human characteristics of a salesman
  • Line 7: Once more, from the top—line 7 is a repeat, word for word, of line 1. And you know what? The same things apply this time: extended metaphor, personification. But this time, since it is a repetition of that first line, something else happens as well.
  • The repetition, or refrain, brings to mind the way a salesman might call out to customers, pitching his product to the crowd: "Peanuts! Get your peanuts here. Peanuts! Get your peanuts here." Get it?
  • Remember, this poem was written in 1917. Online shopping wasn't very big yet.
  • Lines 13-14: The first two lines of the poem's last stanza close out the extended metaphor. In these lines, the speaker addresses the reader, "you," and kind of turns on the hard-sell. She implores us to give up whatever we must for some of that loveliness she's been going on and on about.
  • Perhaps the speaker is a happy customer—someone who gave all she had "for loveliness." You know what they say: happy customers are the best advertisement money can buy.

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