Study Guide

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape Stanza V

By John Ashbery

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Stanza V

Lines 25-27

Arpeggio of our years. No more shall pleasant
Rays of the sun refresh your sense of growing old, nor the scratched
Tree-trunks and mossy foliage, only immaculate darkness and thunder."

  • The lines have ruptured the pleasant "arpeggio" of the years of their lives. In music, an arpeggio is a chord that is broken up and played in succession instead of all at once.
  • Put simply, Olive and her friends have been living an easy, carefree life – like music – until now. For some mysterious reason, Popeye's thunder and perfect or "immaculate" darkness have taken the place of their beloved sunshine and the pretty trees and herbs. Popeye has made the world dark. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Lines 28-30

She grabbed Swee'pea. "I'm taking the brat to the country."
"But you can't do that – he hasn't even finished his spinach,"
Urged the Sea Hag, looking fearfully around at the apartment.

  • After delivering a dramatic speech that could rival one of the wizard Gandalf's gloomy prophecies from The Lord of the Rings, Olive changes her tone completely. She grabs the baby, Swee'pea, and announces that she will take him to the country. The country, remember, is where Popeye and the thunder are. Things are cheaper there.
  • The Sea Hag is none too pleased with Olive's plan. She wants Swee'pea to finish eating his spinach so he can grow up big and strong like Popeye.
  • The Sea Hag, who has a paranoid streak, looks around the apartment, as if afraid of something.

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