Youth

Poem By James Wright

Flyer By Kennedy Boyer

Poets Bio: James Arlington Wright was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio. His father worked for a glass factory for fifty years, and his mother left school at fourteen to work in a laundry ; neither attended school beyond the eighth grade. While in high school in 1943 Wright suffered a nervous Breakdown and missed a year of school he modeled his writing after Thomas Harding and Robert Frost.

Words from the poem you may not know

Toiled- means struggled

Girder- means beams of wood

(slang term) Honyak- white trash

Whittling - shaping wood

The Poem

Strange bird,

His song remains secret.

He worked too hard to read books.

He never heard how Sherwood Anderson

Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself

From his hatred of factories.

My father toiled fifty years

At Hazel-Atlas Glass,

Caught among girders that smash the kneecaps

Of dumb honyaks.

Did he shudder with hatred in the cold shadow of grease?

Maybe. But my brother and I do know

He came home as quiet as the evening.


He will be getting dark, soon,

And loom through new snow.

I know his ghost will drift home

To the Ohio River, and sit down, alone,

Whittling a root.

He will say nothing.

The waters flow past, older, younger

Than he is, or I am.