33 pages 1 hour read

Ted Kooser

Abandoned Farmhouse

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1980

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.


Loss Permeates Experience

Loss permeates experience and leaves debris in its wake. The objects in “Abandoned Farmhouse” point to it and speak of it, even when those who have experienced the loss have tried to leave it behind. The persistence of its power suggests the family will never quite be free of it, no matter how far they travel. The poem depicts loss as a feature of landscape—as an intrinsic part of the human condition.

An empty farmhouse littered with items left behind in a hasty departure is a concrete depiction of loss. The former inhabitants lost these material objects and their home if/when they ran away. The picture is a devastating one on the literal level alone. Yet the poem asks its readers to examine what else is lost. The decision to abandon a home is never a light one.

“Abandoned Farmhouse” offers no direct narration of the events leading up to the flight and forces readers to deduce what has happened from evidence. It says the farm has failed because the man has failed. Fields haven’t been properly cleared. The “weed-choked” yard (Line 18) and “leaky barn” (Line 8) show signs of neglect. “Money was scarce” (Line 13). This evidence suggests a loss of status, confidence, and income, all of which can erode a sense of self and safety.