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Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

by John Ashbery

The Country

Symbol Analysis

The poem tells us very little about this mysterious "country," or even what sense in which the word "country" is being used. Does it mean a nation or a rural landscape? In each stanza, the word has a slightly different meaning. In fact, the title might tell us more about the country than anything else in the poem.

  • Title: The title is a parody of the title of a European landscape painting. It suggests "country" in the sense of farming.
  • Line 3: The country is compared metaphorically to the solution to a Chinese puzzle called a tangram.
  • Line 8: The word "plains" again makes reference to rural or country life. The "plains" are a flat region filled mostly with grasses and smaller plants.
  • Line 12: The lyric "For this is my country" might be an allusion to the patriotic song "This is My Country," written in 1940.
  • Line 25: Olives uses a metaphor in describing her former life. She compares "years" to a broken-up musical chord called an "arpeggio."
  • Lines 26-27: The nature imagery in these lines suggests a wilder, less domesticated country.

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