Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
by John Ashbery
Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape Transformation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
The first of the undecoded messages read: "Popeye sits in thunder,
Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,
From livid curtain's hue, a tangram emerges: a country. (1-3)
The "emergence" of a Chinese puzzle called a tangram is the first transformation in the poem. The image of a "country" seems almost to come in through the window, past the curtains. The poem is like a half-completed transformation, because the messages are never decoded, the puzzle never solved.
Seemed to grow smaller. (10-11)
This sentence marks the start of the middle section of the poem, when all the characters begin to voice their gripes and dissatisfactions. Once the site of a pleasant vacation, the apartment becomes cramped and thunder-filled.
"Henceforth shall Popeye's apartment
Be but remembered space, toxic or salubrious, whole or scratched." (17-18)
Swee'pea's note announces – out of the blue – that things will never be the same. Thunder and tears have failed to achieve something, and now the apartment is a space that people can only "remember." It doesn't matter what state the apartment is in anymore.