33 pages 1 hour read

Ted Kooser

Abandoned Farmhouse

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1980

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Related Poems

"So This is Nebraska" by Ted Kooser (1980)

“So This is Nebraska” appeared in Sure Signs and shares with “Abandoned Farmhouse” a clear sense of place. It, too, speaks through details, but this time the tone is celebratory. Unlike the empty farmhouse’s stasis, this poem has both movement and an active human presence. The gravel road “rides with a slow gallop / over the fields” (Lines 1-2). The aging barns are “dear old ladies” (Line 5) hiding “broken tractors under their skirts” (Line 8). Nebraska is beautiful and warm—a place where “You feel like stopping the car / and dancing around on the road” (Lines 25-26). It’s an interesting comparison that ultimately creates a richer understanding of Kooser’s milieu.

"The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams (1938)

The tightly focused poem features a single image that pushes the reader to think about the meaning and emotion held in things. Physical objects can stabilize both intellect and emotion and allow them to reach greater depths. “Abandoned Farmhouse” has a similar emphasis on detail and the feeling of steadfast practicality. Wheelbarrows, chickens, jars of preserves, and scattered toys are vital to their settings and speak volumes about the lives tied to them.