Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"I have news!" she gasped. "Popeye, forced as you know to flee the country
One musty gusty evening, by the schemes of his wizened, duplicate father, jealous of the apartment
And all that it contains, myself and spinach
In particular, heaves bolts of loving thunder
At his own astonished becoming (20-24)
Olive's language combines several different kinds of speech, from the childish enjoyment of words ("musty gusty") to difficult philosophical reflections ("his own astonished becoming"). From quotes like this, you can see why Ashbery is often considered a postmodern or experimental writer.
She grabbed Swee'pea. "I'm taking the brat to the country." (28)
Right after delivering her "news," which is full of complicated phrases and lots of adjectives, Olive makes this matter-of-fact statement. How can this quote be the same person speaking?
Popeye chuckled and scratched
His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country. (38-39)
Popeye is the only character who does not speak in the poem – unless you think that the undecoded messages were written by his hand. But the final line paraphrases his thoughts of contentment. He's not ecstatic about the country, but he finds it "pleasant." Also, the crudeness of Popeye scratching his balls is almost like a response to the slightly pretentious, upper middle-class tone of the rest of the poem.