INTERPRETING POETRY
METHOD
TO
MEANING
Barter
by
Sara Teasdale
Go to this url to see a presentation of the images of
the poem set to music:
http://www.youtube.co...
Barter
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that s...
Theme
Clearly the speaker is talking about the beauty to be
found in living. There is more to it so let’s examine
some of ...
Theme
Clearly the theme has something to do with trading one
thing for another. A clue is in the line: loveliness to sell....
Method
Now that we have a theme idea, let’s look at the methods
the poet uses to help us see the theme.
First, we see pers...
Method
We could also see symbol in the use of children:
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.
This m...
Method
In the last stanza, she is talking directly to us, urging us to
buy loveliness. Again, this is not possible in a li...
Thesis
Now let’s go back to our theme idea:
As we examined the poem, we noted some of the
poetic methods used. (It is not ...
Writing the essay
Now that we have examined the poem and pointed
out the meaning and provided links to the method,
we can ...
Writing the body of the essay
Examine the poem one stanza or section at a time.
Explain the connections to the meaning and...
Conclusion
Provide a summary of your main points and any other
thoughts that would wrap up the discussion or
reinforce you...
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Interpreting Poetry

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This is a power point that uses the poem "Barter" to illustrate how to connect meaning to method in literary analysis

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Interpreting Poetry

  1. 1. INTERPRETING POETRY METHOD TO MEANING
  2. 2. Barter by Sara Teasdale Go to this url to see a presentation of the images of the poem set to music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMyjgcykpxQ Go to this url to see information on what the words may imply for meaning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2VwzlwalPY
  3. 3. Barter 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 the 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. Sara Teasdale
  4. 4. Theme Clearly the speaker is talking about the beauty to be found in living. There is more to it so let’s examine some of the parts of the poem. The title: Barter. If you look this word up, you will find that it means: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/barter So the idea of trading one thing for another, sometimes it is money for goods. How does this title help us to see her point? What are we trading in the poem?
  5. 5. Theme Clearly the theme has something to do with trading one thing for another. A clue is in the line: loveliness to sell. Then the line at the end clues us to her message: And for a breath of ecstasy Give all you have been, or could be. Don’t sell out the beauty around you for meaningless things; instead give all for what is truly meaningful: beauty. We could begin forming a theme statement here. Sara Teasdale, in her poem “Barter,” provides the message that the only true value in life is in beauty and people should not trade that for meaningless things.
  6. 6. Method Now that we have a theme idea, let’s look at the methods the poet uses to help us see the theme. First, we see personification in the use of “life.” Life does not sell anything, but for her purposes, she shows us that life has beauty and worth for us. Then she uses imagery to show us what beauty is: Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings, And children's faces looking up, These are visual images that can help us see what she means by beauty. Note that there is also personification here as the fire sways and sings. Beauty comes to life as we experience it.
  7. 7. Method We could also see symbol in the use of children: And children's faces looking up, Holding wonder like a cup. This makes us aware that we need the innocence of children and that kind of wonder to appreciate beauty. There is also repetition of the loveliness line to reinforce this idea. And the second stanza contains more imagery to show what the loveliness is.
  8. 8. Method In the last stanza, she is talking directly to us, urging us to buy loveliness. Again, this is not possible in a literal way, but we can put our efforts into getting or appreciating those things that are lovely. The last stanza moves from imagery of sensory details to abstract concepts such as peace, strife, and ecstacy. This move in the poem shows us that it is a spiritual struggle, not one with material things. Her word, “Holy” in the previous stanza gets us ready for this change. The word “all” is important as it means that there are no exceptions to our quest for beauty and meaning. If we want to have it, we have to spend all our life which is signified in the reference to “Give all you have been, or could be.” This includes past and future.
  9. 9. Thesis Now let’s go back to our theme idea: As we examined the poem, we noted some of the poetic methods used. (It is not necessary to examine all of them, just ones that seem to show the meaning to you). So let’s put this together with our theme statement: Sara Teasdale, in her poem “Barter,” uses personification, imagery, symbol and repetition to provide the message that the only true value in life is in beauty and people should not trade that for meaningless things.
  10. 10. Writing the essay Now that we have examined the poem and pointed out the meaning and provided links to the method, we can take the poem and write this all out: Introduction: Provide the thesis and some introductory remarks. Perhaps here you could note the meaning of the title in connection to the meaning for the poem.
  11. 11. Writing the body of the essay Examine the poem one stanza or section at a time. Explain the connections to the meaning and method that are in the words of the poem. Provide some of these words as you discuss the meaning of the poem Be sure to reinforce how the author is developing her point with each stanza Write a transition sentence to connect paragraphs about the stanzas to show the flow of the whole poem as it relates to meaning.
  12. 12. Conclusion Provide a summary of your main points and any other thoughts that would wrap up the discussion or reinforce your main ideas. Provide a citation for your paper. Be sure to use a correct application of an approved format for the set up of the paper and the citation of the poem and anything else you used to help you analyze it .

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