Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
by John Ashbery
The poem mostly takes place inside Popeye's apartment. Olive tells the story of how Popeye was exiled from the apartment to the country by his father. Sounds like an exciting family drama, but the apartment itself is a scene of middle-class restlessness and boredom. The apartment is a domestic space set apart from the excitement and "thunder" of country.
- Line 2: The metaphor in this line compares the size of the apartment to a shoebox. It's really small.
- Line 3: To be of "livid hue" means the curtains have a pale or ashen color. People's faces often become livid when they get angry.
- Lines 10-11: The poem gives no reason why the apartment should get smaller at this point. Is this a metaphor to describe how the characters feel cramped? Or is the physical size of the apartment actually shrinking? We're dealing with cartoon characters after all – such things are not unheard of.
- Line 14: The "number 2 can of spinach" adds to the sense of domestic life inside the apartment. The "number 2" sounds like a reference to some standard size: think number 2 pencil.
- Line 18: What the heck is going on in this line? The note says that it doesn't matter whether the apartment is harmful and healthy, complete or damaged – it's now a thing of the past. At least that's our take.