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”
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.
I’ve read that book many times, and love it!
This was one of the picture books I read in a lit. class while I was getting my master’s. Need to revisit it! 🙂
Making that poem into a picture book was a stroke of genius! Thanks for sharing this with us 🙂
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.
I wish I would have thought of this book as a way to start conversations about the Industrial Revolution.
Oh, not that’s a great idea! Excellent way to start of with my 6th graders this fall in history! 🙂
That’s an excellent idea, Mary Lee! I’ve used this book with first graders to compare and contrast daily life now and then. I’m sure your students will have some great conversations.
Meant “now”. 🙂