Summer Farm Poem TextStraws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse-trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.
A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
A swallow falls and, flickering through
The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.
I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
Afraid of where a thought might take me –
This grasshopper with plated face
Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.
Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
Lift the farm like a lid and see
Farm within farm, and in the centre, me.
Critical Analysis"Summer Farm" by Norman MacCaig is a poem that combines vivid imagery with introspective reflections, creating a layered and thought-provoking piece. The poem begins with striking visual descriptions of the farm, using similes to compare straws to tame lightning and highlighting the glass-like shine of the water. The movement of the ducks and the unexpected presence of a falling swallow add to the lively atmosphere. However, the tone shifts in the third stanza as the speaker lies in the grass, expressing a fear of where thoughts might lead. This introspective moment delves into existential questions, symbolized by the grasshopper's unfolding legs and finding itself in space. The final stanza presents a metaphysical exploration of the self and its place within the layers of existence, with the speaker metaphorically lifting the farm to reveal nested farms within. MacCaig's skillful blend of vivid imagery and philosophical musings invites readers to contemplate the interconnectedness of the natural world and their own place within it.
Split into two parts according to emotions
Stanza 1: The poem begins with the image of straws lying like tame lightning on the grass and hanging in zigzag patterns on hedges. The water in the horse-trough shines like glass. Nine ducks move in two straight lines, wobbling as they go.
Stanza 2: A hen is observed staring at nothing with one eye and then picking something up. Suddenly, a swallow falls from an empty sky and swiftly flies through the barn before ascending again into the dizzying blue.
Stanza 3: The speaker lies in the cool and soft grass, not thinking, and feeling a sense of fear about where thoughts might lead. They describe a grasshopper with a plated face unfolding its legs and finding itself in space.
Stanza 4: The speaker reflects on the layers of existence and their own place within it. They perceive a pile of selves, interconnected and threaded on time. With a metaphysical hand, they lift the farm like a lid, revealing nested farms within farms, and at the center of it all, the presence of the speaker.
The poem progresses from vivid observations of the farm's surroundings to introspective contemplations on the self and its relationship to the interconnectedness of existence.
Major ThemesThemes in the poem "Summer Farm" by Norman MacCaig:
These themes collectively contribute to the contemplative and philosophical nature of the poem, inviting readers to reflect on their relationship with the natural world, the nature of self, the passage of time, and the intricate layers of existence.