NOT THIS PIG by Philip Levine


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The landscapes in these poems are geographically vast: they include the interminable Midwest prairies and its small towns, stretches of California, and the cages and prickly countrysides of Spain. There are also vaster, nameless landscapes, most of them in the mind. Real or imaginary, all are haunted by desolation and Junk (""a speedometer that glows and always reads O""), or by mind-destroying labor and poverty, by dys-function of all sorts. Most of all, they are haunted by people who have been twisted by, or almost changed into, the mechanical debris that shapes our lives. This nightmare world of alienation is partly Jewish, a heritage of non-belonging which ranges from the poet's son's first day in a Gentile-American kindergarten, to encompass all tourists, Negroes, freaks, strangers in strange lands. It is also specifically American: a hallucinatory world in which men, machines, place-names, and bitter dreams trap and become each other, in metamorphoses made more terrible by a heightened awareness. Many of these meanings are not clearly expressed; but the poetry has a subterranean, emotional power.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1967
ISBN: 0819510386
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press