James Wright’s poem “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio” is one of those poems that is very subtle about the use of its poetic devises. It relies on natural pauses in speech patterns to dictate line breaks. There is only one instance of enjambment: “Their sons grow suicidally beautiful / At the beginning of October.” Wright includes subtle consonance, especially in the first stanza. The lines “I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville / And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,” show the repetition of “l” and “s” sounds. The following line, “And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Street,” repeats the “w” sound. There is no rhyme scheme, and the number of syllables in each line show no discernable pattern.
Wright does, however, use quite a bit of metonymy. In replacing commonplace descriptors with more inventive ones, he breathes fresh life into the images portrayed in phrases such as “long beers,” “ruptured night watchman,” and “suicidally beautiful.” I feel like without this metonymy, the descriptions of working class minorities in the factory town of “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio” would feel very cliché.