Dr. Robert Kellerman
March 26, 2013
Their World in Ruins:
“Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser
The objects people keep in their homes can tell a story about who they are or were. Each item possessed by the residents of a house is evidence of how these people may have lived. Ted Kooser’s poem “Abandoned Farmhouse” takes the reader on a walkthrough of the remains of a farmhouse where a poor family once lived. In “Abandoned Farmhouse,” Kooser selects seemingly insignificant relics left behind by each family member to illustrate who these people were and how they lived. The picture he paints is a bleak one and reflects the impoverished life which the residents lived within this now lonely and desolate building. The poet leaves it up to the reader to deduce what exactly has transpired in the farmhouse, inviting many interpretations based upon the evidence left behind by the previous residents. The toys that were found in the yard tells us that a child may have once lived in the farmhouse. When the speaker mentions the toys “strewn in the yard like branches after a storm” (21-22), it gives the reader the impression that the child did not have time to gather his toys. Children often become attached to their belongings and would likely not leave them behind if they were to move away, unless it they were the never given the chance. By including this piece of evidence, Kooser hints that the occupants of the home may have left under dire circumstances, perhaps fleeing from something that readers cannot fully understand. The poem makes it a point to highlight the size of the man’s possessions to stress how big he was. “He was a big man, says size of his shoes” (1) and “a tall man too, says the length of the bed in the upstairs room” (3-4). Despite his great size, the man accomplishes little; after all, his farmhouse was falling into ruin and his fields were unkempt and strewn with boulders. This observation might hint that although he was...