Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

An Abandoned Factory, Detroit - Poem by Philip Levine

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.


Comments about An Abandoned Factory, Detroit by Philip Levine

  • (1/7/2017 11:51:00 PM)

    Masterful writing from which I have learned technique to further enhance my writing skills. (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (12/14/2016 10:33:00 PM)

    Marvelous portrayal of an abandoned factory. Congrats on modern poet of the Day. (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Terry Craddock (12/14/2016 9:27:00 PM)

    The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
    An iron authority against the snow,
    And this grey monument to common sense....


    Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
    Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
    Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

    wow, so much written between the first and last lines, I particularly liked the images of 'broken windows', 'great presses paused between their strokes', 'air suspended, caught' and 'the sure margin of eternity.'

    this is a massive work with so many exceptional lines, a topic exceptionally well written in this poem, which is often a badly written topic makes 'An Abandoned Factory, Detroit' a masterpiece for me, even the title sets up wonderful resonant themes within the poem, loved this.
    (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Glen Kappy (12/14/2016 12:27:00 PM)

    this poem resonates in america today and is the reason many voted for donald trump.

    but mainly i want to comment on the craft of the poem. i'm not familiar with levine's work, but after reading this i want to read some more. this poem has a tight rhyme scheme and sticks with pentameter, but i hardly noticed it when reading. it flowed logically and naturally. he begins with the outside of the factory then moves attention to the inside through broken windows with muscular descriptions.

    the poem moves me not by telling me how to feel, but evoking feelings from the things described.

    i'm off to read more levine.

    glen kappy
    (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi Louis (12/14/2016 2:41:00 AM)

    Chained! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (12/14/2016 1:03:00 AM)

    I can relate to this poem, I have seen many Cast Iron foundries closed liked that and when I ventured in this traditional business with one of my friends, we somehow managed to take over the control and run it...A very sad affair to see such industry getting closed down leaving many (200-500 employees) jobless. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • 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

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • 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

    6 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (2/9/2012 6:56:00 PM)

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

    10 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • 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

    8 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (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

    10 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
Read all 11 comments »




Read this poem in other languages

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: loss, weather, snow, power, fear



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]