Excerpt Tuesday – At North Farm – Ashbery


Somewhere someone is traveling toward you,

At incredible speed, traveling day and night,

Through blizzards and desert heat…
John Ashbery

Today’s excerpt comes from Mr. John Ashbery’s fascinating poem, “At North Farm”.  I highly recommend reading the whole poem here. The New York Times quotes Mr. Ashbery as saying in 1984 that this is a love poem – and that the “someone” is a lover who reminds us of our mortality. I had imputed a much more supernatural meaning to the opening lines – so I love the the contrast of his comparatively grounded interpretation!

Two of my artistic goals for this year were to focus on more “completed compositions” (read: backgrounds and contexts) and to do more lettering by hand. Working on these goals has gradually picked up speed and they have been in full swing in the last few months. Both goals have been challenging, but of the two I will say that the hand lettering has been the more confounding. I struggled to choose a style and arrangement of the words for this poem and I find that is often true when I’m “in charge” of the font, as it were. I’ve always known that typography and calligraphy were separate arts, but now I know firsthand why! Drawing and composition by me. Have a lovely Tuesday!


  1. I love the breath of words coming from her mouth….and the “wind” of the lines in the drawing itself….they all add such movement to the drawing. Wonderful illustration!


  2. I’m not his biggest fan, but I love this poem, and your work with it. It’s a bit timely for me, too.

    I’d argue you’re not wrong about the supernatural twist of the poem. It’s the dish of milk left out that keys it for me; that’s traditionally done for the fae, and you can bet he was well aware of that.


    1. Thank you! I agree – when I first read this poem, my thought process went like this: 1st stanza: supernatural being –> beginning of 2nd stanza: oh, maybe not, maybe something else? –> end of poem: wait a second…dish of milk? mixed feelings?
      Thank you for sharing the information about the fae – it greatly bolsters my case! 🙂


      1. Yes, I think blogging has helped be a little less critical of my art, Marcy. But it is an ongoing process. It helps me to have your encouragement. ❤️ Happy Thanksgiving to you too! 😊


  3. Hand lettering looks great in your fantastic illustration Marcy! I like the gap you left between the letters and the background, it’s easy to read.
    I use white marker or white ink to write if the background is black or dark, sometimes works well as well.

    Liked by 2 people

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