Study Guide

Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape Man and the Natural World

By John Ashbery

Man and the Natural World

When Olive tells the other characters that there won't be any more sunny days or mossy trees, "Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape" expresses something the reader might have suspected all along: these characters are very isolated from nature. Despite having a title that suggests nature paintings, the Sea Hag and company mostly stay in the apartment, eat things, and talk in lofty sentences. Even the awesome power of thunder becomes harmless and "domestic" in the poem's final stanza.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Are there any images of "wild" nature in this poem, or is nature always domesticated and suited to human needs?
  2. Which character is most closely associated with nature?
  3. How does the apartment protect or isolate the characters from nature? Is this a good or a bad thing?
  4. Put yourself in Ashbery's shoes for a minute. Why would he have given the title "Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape," and how does the title affect the way you approach the poem?

Chew on This

Popeye's consciousness belongs to an earlier period of history when man was not isolated from nature.