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 )

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  • 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

  • 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

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