Poetry Friday: Ox Cart Man

Poetry_Friday_Button-210Ox Cart Man

by Donald Hall

In October of the year

he counts potatoes dug from the brown field

counting the seed, counting

the cellar’s portion out,

and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey

in combs, linen, leather

tanned from deerhide,

and vinegar in a barrel

hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

Read the rest of the poem here

Donald Hall’s “Ox Cart Man” first appeared in The New Yorker on October 3, 1977. Two years later, Hall revised and expanded it into a picture book. Barbara Cooney’s primitive folk art paintings perfectly match the tone of this tale of a self-sufficient farmer and his family. Winner of the 1980 Caldecott Award, the book portrays 19th century farm life and its close ties to the seasons. The Horn Book described it as a “pastoral symphony translated into picture book format.”


Be sure to visit Tabatha Yeatts at her lovely blog, The Opposite of Indifference for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

9 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Ox Cart Man

  1. I have this picture book and use it as a mentor text in our writing workshop – somehow, I can’t imagine the poem without Cooney’s lovely paintings.


  2. I love Ox Cart Man. The picture book was enjoyed by my children many times. How wonderful that the poem was interpreted by Barbara Cooney and became a beloved picture book.


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