Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

Philip Levine Poems

1. Breakfasts With Joachim 6/25/2014
2. You Can Have It 12/31/2013
3. And The Trains Go On 12/26/2014
4. On 52nd Street 1/10/2012
5. The Two 1/10/2012
6. During The War 1/10/2012
7. Our Valley 1/10/2012
8. Gospel 1/10/2012
9. Unholy Saturday 4/7/2011
10. Drum 1/10/2012
11. Baby Villon 1/10/2012
12. Blasting From Heaven 1/10/2012
13. Belle Isle, 1949 1/10/2012
14. Detroit, Tomorrow 1/10/2012
15. A Story 1/10/2012
16. The House 1/13/2003
17. Sierra Kid 1/13/2003
18. The Grave Of The Kitchen Mouse 1/13/2003
19. The Return 1/13/2003
20. Passing Out 1/13/2003
21. Montjuich 1/13/2003
22. The Turning 1/13/2003
23. The Negatives 1/13/2003
24. Something Has Fallen 1/13/2003
25. Magpiety 1/13/2003
26. The Rains 1/13/2003
27. Red Dust 1/13/2003
28. The Helmet 1/13/2003
29. The New World 1/13/2003
30. The Rat Of Faith 1/13/2003
31. Salts And Oils 1/13/2003
32. Then 1/13/2003
33. The Distant Winter 1/13/2003
34. Late Moon 1/13/2003
35. Small Game 1/13/2003
36. Noon 1/13/2003
37. Holy Day 1/13/2003
38. In A Vacant House 1/13/2003
39. The Unknowable 1/13/2003
40. The Present 1/13/2003

Comments about Philip Levine

  • Greg Bell Greg Bell (4/16/2017 5:26:00 PM)

    Finally discovered the beauty of Philip Levine's poetry in his poem, 'A Sign.' Quiet, not flashy stuff, but deeply resonant.

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  • Wes Dixon Wes Dixon (7/28/2015 11:34:00 AM)

    Phillip Levine is not the first author I found just moments after their death. The first was not officially a poet, I guess, but Ayn Rand's work has the same epic aspects. I find Mr. Levine to be more realistic than my own favorite poet Billy Collins. He has the same accessibility...I like accessibility. Sorry I missed him...but then that is also something of a trademark among artists...

    6 person liked.
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  • Susan Oneil (4/7/2011 8:19:00 AM)

    I love his Unholy Saturday and don't see it on your site.Is it that new?

    14 person liked.
    21 person did not like.
  • Doren Robbins Doren Robbins (12/18/2008 12:40:00 AM)

    On What Work Is

    Philip Levine's poetry evokes the vibrant durability and continuity of things. It is no accident that the seemingly unbreakable thistle, which survives California's harsh summers, is his 'flower.' At least he has celebrated it in such a way throughout his books. Possibly he has done so because its work is to survive, and it does. the way we must, impassively committed surviving, standing up though the harsh heat, the inevitable storms. Levine's poem, 'What Work Is, ' should be read in this context. To work is to survive, and the details of how difficult or debased work can be are evoked in the title poem and the poem 'Growth' (each the book What Work Is) . Levine was the man, he suffered, he was there. But the symbolic importance of work operates as an emblem of the soul as well, since not knowing how to love, Levine writes, is to not 'know what work is.' We may seem to be closer here to the meaning of work as it occurs in the tragedies, desolations, and betrayals of the remarkable book of poems Hard Labor by the Italian poet Cesare Pavese than to the Whitman of 'A Song of Occupations. But the paradox that Whitman extols, where 'Objects gross and the unseen soul are one' are filtered through a rich groove into Levine's book in the poem 'Soloing.' In the poem his mother tells him 'she dreamed/ of John Coltrane, 'a young Trane/ playing his music with such joy/ and contained energy and rage/ she could not hold back her tears/.' Levine sees the dream visitation as a Dream Vision, a gift of music from the great musician so lasting in the force of his passion that he is retained within, and resurfaces out of, the 'unseen' after death in the mother's dream. And here the poet, almost Dante-like, coming into the smogged-over sea-dead L.A. basin simultaneously presents the dignified but saddened alone-ness of the mother with the mother who is still a source of sustenance, whose work as a mother is not over. There is then a placental quality to the poem since the mother's dream itself was the substance that fed the poet-son's language. The remarkable quality, especially of Levine's later poems, is this capacity for lucidly evoking the subtleties of how the inner and outer worlds of experience inter-relate. He could also be saying that sometimes you have to go through hell, and that it is worth going through hell, to receive a gift from the mother—herself a symbol of what primarily sustains and devours all. But the possibly deeper comical or mystical intent is incidental. At the foundation of Levine's poetry is the durability that arises out of integrity: he is committed to finishing the 'job, ' knowing there are all the reasons in the world to hesitate, but that if he did quit, if he were to ever 'have turned back, ' he would have 'lost the music.' One of Levine’s best books.

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    17 person did not like.
Best Poem of Philip Levine

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, ...

Read the full of An Abandoned Factory, Detroit

My Fathers, The Baltic

Along the strand stones,
busted shells, wood scraps,
bottle tops, dimpled
and stainless beer cans.
Something began here
a century ago,
a nameless disaster,
perhaps a voyage
to the lost continent

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