Philip Levine Named Poet Laureate of the United States

And to celebrate I thought I would post the poem of his that I memorized in grad school. I guess if you live in England this is a timely poem although it was originally written in response to riots in Detroit in 1967. Read it out loud and let it fill up your lungs.

 

They Feed They Lion

by Philip Levine

 
Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter,

Out of black bean and wet slate bread,

Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,

Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies,

They Lion grow.

                        Out of the gray hills

Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride,

West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties,

Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,

Out of the bones’ need to sharpen and the muscles’ to stretch,

They Lion grow.

                        Earth is eating trees, fence posts,

Gutted cars, earth is calling in her little ones,

“Come home, Come home!” From pig balls,

From the ferocity of pig driven to holiness,

From the furred ear and the full jowl come

The repose of the hung belly, from the purpose

They Lion grow.

                        From the sweet glues of the trotters

Come the sweet kinks of the fist, from the full flower

Of the hams the thorax of caves,

From “Bow Down” come “Rise Up,”

Come they Lion from the reeds of shovels,

The grained arm that pulls the hands,

They Lion grow.

                        From my five arms and all my hands,

From all my white sins forgiven, they feed,

From my car passing under the stars,

They Lion, from my children inherit,

From the oak turned to a wall, they Lion,

From they sack and they belly opened

And all that was hidden burning on the oil-stained earth

They feed they Lion and he comes.