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Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

by John Ashbery

Thunder

Symbol Analysis

About halfway through the poem, when Olive tells her story, we realize that Popeye is responsible for the strange thunder that seems to fill both the apartment and the country. This spinach-powered thunder has a sickly green thunder. By giving Popeye the ability to create thunder, Ashbery may be drawing a comparison with the ancient Greek god Zeus, who also had the power to throw lightning bolts.

  • Line 1: The poem opens with an image of Popeye sitting in the middle of a thunderstorm.
  • Line 8: The phrase "decked out" is ironic. Usually this phrase is used to describe clothing or some other kind of decoration. Wimpy talks about the plains as if they were a big apartment or room.
  • Line 23: The thunder is personified as loving, when in fact Popeye is the one filled with love for Olive...and yummy yummy spinach.
  • Lines 37-38: The phrase "domestic thunder" sounds like an oxymoron. "Domestic" by definition must be something that fits inside a household or is associated with household life, but thunder doesn't normally fit inside homes. You'd have to be in a cartoon to find something like that...

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