Philip Levine’s poems were a filled with graphics that made the voiceless heard. The imagery of Detroit, the factories and the labor. He painted pictures of sweat stuck to the coldness that blanketed an era. For generations to come readers will walk through Philip Levine’s words feeling those hands that held a lot of heavy life before the pen found its way through. Here is his “An Abandoned Factory, Detroit”
The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.
Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,
And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.