Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (An Abandoned Factory, Detroit by Philip Levine )

  • Gold Star - 9,016 Points Rajnish Manga (3/3/2015 12:25:00 AM)

    A painful homage to the once prestigious edifice of human endeavour. Thanks for this wonderful imagery. A quote: Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears / Which might have served to grind their eulogy. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,738 Points Smoky Hoss (2/16/2015 7:11:00 PM)

    An amazing metaphorical labyrinth of what was once a nations greatest hope, the assurance of lifelong stability, crushed by the very forces which created it. Leaving loss and confusion in it's pitiless wake.
    Powerful poem indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eric Cockrell (2/9/2012 6:56:00 PM)

    very well done... your images leap out and grab! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Gale (4/8/2009 2:06:00 PM)

    Great writing! A gifted talent that has written unique and so artful.

    God bless us all-MJG. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points G. Murdock (12/6/2005 10:51:00 PM)

    Great Piece ....great descriptive indictment of rust. Also a great reality check on the fate of American workers. (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »

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