Study Guide

Women Down on the Farm

By Louise Bogan

Down on the Farm

Let's see: we have "cattle," "crops," and wood-chopping. It sure sounds like farm country to us. (Check out "Setting" for more on the poem's…setting.) It could be that Bogan really got her inspiration from a trip to the country to see how women lived (or, more specifically to our speaker, to see how badly they lived) on a farm. Another explanation, though, is that all this farm imagery allows the speaker to draw a pretty bright line between the world that women live in (domestic, home-bound) and that world that men live in (more expansive and physically challenging).

  • Line 1: While this doesn't reference a farm specifically, it's interesting to note that a farm is kind of halfway between civilization and "wilderness." All the same, our speaker uses figurative language to let us know that, despite their surroundings, women lack an inner wilderness, a sense of adventure.
  • Line 5: Women also lack the ability to pay attention to the poetic imagery of their surroundings—even if it does just consist of some cows munching in a field.
  • Line 13: It looks like women can't even get their heads around the mathematics of crop yield. Our speaker takes a pretty dim view of their calculating skills.
  • Line 14: Don't bother chopping any wood either, ladies. The speaker doesn't see that skill as something a woman can even think about. The implication is that the math skills and physical strength needed to run a farm is something only a man possesses.

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