Sara Teasdale

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Author Bio

On August 8th, 1884 Sara Trevor Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Sara was home-schooled until she was 9 years old. she frequently traveled to Chicago, where she became apart of the circle surrounding Poetry magazine. She published Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems in 1907; her second collection Helen of Troy, and Other Poems in 1911; and her third, Rivers to the Sea in 1915. In 1914 she became Sara Teasdale Filsinger, after marrying Ernest Filsinger. In 1918 Teasdale's Love Songs received the first Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Later she published three more novels: Flame and shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), and Stars Tonight (1930). She earned fame in her day as a sensitive soul whose simple, poignant poems addressed beauty and loss. She divorced in 1929 and lived the rest of her life as a semi-invalid. After suffering from a tragic, weakening case of pneumonia, Sara Teasdale, sadly, committed suicide on January 29th, 1933, with an overdose of barbiturates. Her final collection, Strange Victory, appeared after her death that same year.


Life has loveliness to sell,

All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children's faces looking up

Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,

Music like a curve of gold,

Scent of pine trees in the rain,

Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit's still delight,

Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,

Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace

Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be.

Interpretation and Theme

Throughout the poem Sara Teasdale repeats Live has loveliness to sell at the beginning of the first two stanzas. She then gives many examples of all the beauty things life has to offer, that people may not always take appreciation for. Teasdale uses a lot of visual imagery, parallelism, analogies, as well as similes and metaphors all through Barter. But Sara changes her tone in the third stanza, and talks about how we need to Spend all we have on loveliness, meaning take advantage of what we have, see the beauty this world has to offer. Which leads me into the theme of this poem. The author expresses how so many people take life for granted and have forgotten the real essence of it and all that life gives us in beauty, nature, God, animals, music, etc. People have become so absorbed with all their material possessions that they miss out on the real, important beauties of the world-relationships, nature, family, friends, and loved ones. The author wants to voice that it's okay to let go of all the unnecessary, unneeded materials and just enjoy life and its natural beauty. Before you know it, it could all be gone and your time may be up, so appreciate everything while you can, and have no regrets.

Analysis of Barter

This video gives an example of the poems true meaning and interprets what Sara Teasdale's message was in writing this poem. They explain the tone of the poem, the sensory images, the flow and rhythm of the piece, and also the theme.
"Barter" by Sara Teasdale Analysis Video
Below is an example of a 2012 NJ State Finalist performing Barter for the Poetry Out Loud competition.

Poetry Out Loud 2012 NJ State Finals: Sarah Finnan performs "Barter"
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