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Tired Barns

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I have borrowed from Robert Frost's "Birches" for the first two and a half lines. The rest is straight out of Whipple. I am moved by the primitive, elegiac beauty of tired barns. No one's making them any more, and I hope not to see the day they all have fallen down.

When I see barns lean to left and right
Along the lines of straighter, cleaner sheds
I like to think the years have granted them perspective
of a kind denied the newly-built.
A point of view, born of knowing
the things new sheds can never comprehend.
The bleat of a lamb, newly born
Left across the field by its foolish dam
The siding strains, calling back.
Afterbirth and greasepot
Rope, sweet hay, pigeon feathers
Carcass hanging, gleaming corn and chaffy oats.
What is kept in the galvanized shed?
A car, a lawnmower, cans and bottles
Tools and tires.

The wood barn leans over, listening
For hoofbeats, the cluck and slap of reins
Gentle belch of cowcud, new chicken peep
The rolling sigh of blue doves.


Perfectly captured essence of old barn, Jules!

for a moment there you had me too leaning over, listening for hoofbeats and the peep of chickens....

"listening for hoofbeats" This brought tears to my eyes. My mom would have been 89 yesterday and I remember her retelling the story of when she was around 5 years old in northern Wisconsin, running to her dad in the field where he was plowing with two large draft horses, to tell him supper was ready. Her dad would unhitch the horses, put my mom up on one bareback and the gentle giants would race back to the barn (as it was their supper time too!)

Thanks for the memories.

I grew up in southern Ohio and have always enjoyed the character and soul of those old barns. Thanks for the flashback.

There's nothing new that compares with the old of barns.
Ours is in terrible conditin outwardly, but the structure stands firm. The heavy timbers and logs that are her core. How they were ever erected is beyond me.
Must've been the hands of many.

They give such richness to the countryside. Full of more than scraps.

"Birches" has always been my favorite poem but you gave Frost a run for his money. This needs to be in a book.

Great thoughts on barns, Julie! Old barns entertain me with their scenery while I'm on the highways, especially the oldest, vacant ones, once painted red.

First time poster... long time reader.

My youth was spent trying to sneak into my Grandfather's barn. We were not allowed in the barn because of the snakes but to play in the hay bales was always a temptation. The stories that old barn could tell. A storm with straight line winds moved the barn 3 ft years ago and it was dismantled for the wood (it actually faired better then the houses around it) I have pieces of the barn I salvaged.. the pieces old and weathered but still holds memories and beauty to my eye.

Beautiful pictures and words.. thank you for the trip down memory lane.

Driving through Kentucky this summer we saw many beautiful, simple (but very large!)wooden slat barns. Most interesting to me was that they were almost all black. It was just stunning against the blue sky and green fields. If anyone knows the background of this little bit of vernacular architecture, I'd love to hear about it!

I'm thinking those long black barns would be tobacco drying barns, LOG. They hang up the entire plant from the ceiling in rows and the air circulates through the slats. Perhaps the black color radiates heat and keeps the tobacco relatively cool while it dries. They are beautiful, and I would bet they provide refuge for a lot of animals and birds, too, with their open structure.

I finally caught the stomach virus and that barn poem is about all the good that came out of me yesterday. Hence the midnight posting...Now the creeks have flooded the roads so the kids will be out of school for the rest of the week. Ahh, country life. Ahh, motherhood.

I grew up in southwestern Ohio and my great grandparents and family had a wonderful barn along SR 222 outside of Batavia. On the side of that barn was painted the old Mailpouch Tobacco ad. I remember playing in that barn as a small child and have often wondered whatever happened to it. Thank you for the walk back in time. Hope you are feeling better soon.

You might be on to something, Architecture Chimp!

This is such a great post Julie. I just hate these pole barns that are now constructed. Not a one of them will be saved by someone and made into a home as is done with lots of old barns that have character.

This too reminds me of being in an old barn at my cousins where we would play in the hay or take afternoon naps while "listening" to the rain fall.

I hope you are feeling better by now. That flu is awful.

There is a watercolor of an old barn on our bedroom wall that my husband did 40 years ago. It is of an old barn on their farm in the Champlain Valley of NY, we made a frame of a piece of siding from same barn. We got in huge trouble with my father-in-law for pirating it. Necessitated a trip to lumber yard for replacement piece of new wood. The new piece still hasn't yet weathered out as beautifully. Hadn't thought about that episode in years.
Caroline in the Black Hills of SD

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