Poem: At North Farm


Since few other things give me the pleasure that sharing amazing poetry does, I figured I’d get into the habit of sharing it here. I first read this poem years ago during a brief obsession with Ashbery’s work, and I was reminded of it last week, walking to school (my car was in the shop). On the sidewalk outside the art gallery here, there are segments of poetry, quotes, and bits of songs engraved into blocks of concrete. I was delighted to find this one there. Below, in its entirety. Interpret as you wish.


At North Farm

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

John Ashbery

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