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Old Barn
Richard Greene


Thereís an old barn
not far from our house
thatís nearing the end of its days.
Its boards are scoured and scored
its roof sags
and there are yawning holes in its sides.

When it was raised
the neat lines of its frame
stood firm against the sky
and it was clad in clean young boards and paint.

Once workmen, with their laughter, came storing hay,
children played in its loft
and young people experimented there with love.

Once cows and horses sheltered between its walls,
and gave birth there to their young,
mice scurried along its beams,
swallows and owls nested under its eaves
and cats came to prowl and prey.

Now the barn is an empty husk
and the fields from which it gathered its hay
have reverted to scraggly woods and scrub.

© by Richard Greene.
Used with the author's permission.

Richard Greene began writing poetry in the 8th grade, inspired by the opening lines of Longfellow's “Evangeline”—“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks / Bearded in moss and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight"—which he was required to read in class. In college, after a classmate deemed Richard’s rhyming poem “trite,” he stopped writing until, a couple of years later, a class with Henry Rago, subsequently editor of Poetry magazine, inspired him to resume his efforts. But poetry fell by the wayside for almost forty years as a busy career in international development consumed his life. As retirement approached, however, Richard’s dedication to poetry returned; he has since published three chapbooks: The Broken Guitar: Poems of War; Becoming Old: Poems of Aging; Painting with Words: Landscapes in Verse; and one full -length collection, To Talk of Many Things: Selected Poems. Richard, who lives in Nyack, New York, shares a "poem of the week" with anyone interested; get on his mailing list by requesting it at



Post New Comment:
The barns of my youth could have served as your study for this poem Richard. Thank you!
Posted 06/26/2016 04:00 PM
Evocative of long-ago life onthe farm, well done. Only quibble: in my experience, workers are not laughing, usually, while they're making hay. It's hot, intense work.
Posted 06/26/2016 12:21 PM
Brings back so many memories of where I grew up - the barn was the background of our life. The foundation. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 06/26/2016 12:01 PM
Lori Levy:
Like the contrast between the barn as it once was and the "empty husk" it has become.
Posted 06/26/2016 11:51 AM
This poem makes me think of the connectedness of things. The man-made structure becomes a part of the natural world,which surrounds it. The barn is a living thing. And like all that is alive, it has its season. A fine poem.
Posted 06/26/2016 11:11 AM
The music of this piece claimed me from the first few lines. My favorite line: and cats came to prowl and prey.
Posted 06/26/2016 08:12 AM
You have honored the majesty & melancholy of old barns well. Thanks, Richard
Posted 06/26/2016 04:36 AM

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