Thomas McGrath

(1916 - 1990 / North Dakota / United States)

Biography of Thomas McGrath

Thomas McGrath poet

Thomas Matthew McGrath, (November 20, 1916 near Sheldon, North Dakota – September 20, 1990, Minneapolis, Minnesota) was a celebrated American poet.
McGrath grew up on a farm in Ransom County, North Dakota. He earned a B.A. from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. He served in the Aleutian Islands with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, at Oxford. McGrath also pursued postgraduate studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He taught at Colby College in Maine and at Los Angeles State College, from which he was dismissed in connection with his appearance, as an unfriendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. Later he taught at North Dakota State University, and Minnesota State University, Moorhead. He was married three times and had one son.
McGrath wrote mainly about his own life and social concerns. His best-known work is probably Letter to an Imaginary Friend published in sections between 1957 and 1985 and as a single poem in 1997 by Copper Canyon Press.

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Such Simple Love

All night long I hear the sleepers toss
Between the darkened window and the wall.
The madman's whimper and the lover's voice,
The worker's whisper and the sick child's call—
Knowing them all

I'd walk a mile, maybe, hearing some cat
Crying its guts out, to throttle it by hand,
Such simple love I had. I wished I might—

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