Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Philip Levine: They Feed They Lion

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. 

Copyright 1972 Philip Levine. From The Internet Poetry Archive published by University of North Carolina. Included in Vox Populi for educational noncommercial use only.

Philip Levine (1928 – 2015) was an American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. He taught for more than thirty years in the English department of California State University, Fresno and held teaching positions at other universities as well. He served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2000 to 2006, and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2011–2012.

5 comments on “Philip Levine: They Feed They Lion

  1. Barbara Huntington
    November 20, 2020

    I don’t understand why I am drawn into this poem, but I am. There is rhythm and repetition, but what is catching me that I am not seeing?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lorrie Carter
    November 20, 2020

    Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rickcam21
    November 20, 2020

    a great one

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2020 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , , , .

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