Study Guide

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape Tough-O-Meter

By John Ashbery

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(6) Tree-line

We know: we're underestimating how hard this poem is, right? Not so fast. If W.H. Auden, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, could enjoy Ashbery's work without being able to understand each line (see "Brain Snacks"), then we bet you can too. Ashbery even hints that the poem is an "undecoded message" in the first line. This is a puzzle that was meant to remain a puzzle. Yes, there are many difficulties in this poem: the use of Spanish, SAT words like "salubrious," and enough Popeye trivia to require a degree with the University of Cartoon Network. But the point of this poem is to make you laugh and think a little. Look around. Explore. And don't sweat the small stuff. We're willing to bet you'll become an Ashbery fan, if you're not already.

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