Biography of Thomas McGrath
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.
Thomas McGrath Poems
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,
A Coal Fire In Winter
Something old and tyrannical burning there, (Not like a wood fire which is only The end of summer, or a life)
Gone Away Blues
Sirs, when you are in your last extremity, When your admirals are drowning in the grass-green sea, When your generals are preparing the total catastrophe— I just want you to know how you can not count on me.
I don't belong in this century—who does? In my time, summer came someplace in June— The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds brazen, and the astonished Pastures frisking with young calves . . .
Ode for the American Dead in Asia
1. God love you now, if no one else will ever, Corpse in the paddy, or dead on a high hill In the fine and ruinous summer of a war
Miami Beach: wartime Imagine or remember how the road at last led us Over bridges like prepositions, linking a drawl of islands. The coast curved away like a question mark, listening slyly
Many in the Darkness
November 1941 We sat in the park, but there was a war between us, A dead moon over us and all around us The shy and secret whisperings as of the tiny
The Little Odyssey of Jason Quint, of Sc...
1. Betrayed by his five mechanic agents, falling Captive to consciousness, he summons light To all its duties, and assumes the world
At two thousand feet the sea wrinkles like an old man's hand. Closer, in a monotone of peristalsis, Its fugue-like swells create and recreate One image in an idiot concentration.
Baton Rouge, 1940 These are savannas bluer than your dreams Where other loves are fashioned to older music, And the romantic in his light boat
Celebration for June 24
For Marian Before you, I was living on an island And all around the seas of that lonely coast Cast up their imitation jewels, cast Their fables and enigmas, questioning, sly.
The Buffalo Coat
I see him moving, in his legendary fleece, Between the superhighway and an Algonquin stone axe; Between the wild tribes, in their lost heat, And the dark blizzard of my Grandfather's coat;
Beyond the Red River
The birds have flown their summer skies to the south, And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion, Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.
for Don and Henrie Gordon Forty-odd years ago— Headlines in the snow— The jobless scrawled a text for mutineers;
All the Dead Soldiers
In the chill rains of the early winter I hear something—
A puling anger, a cold wind stiffened by flying bone—
Out of the north ...
and remember, then, what's up there:
That ghost-bank: home: Amchitka: boot hill ....
They must be very tired, those ghosts; no flesh sustains them
And the bones rust in the rain.
Reluctant to go into the earth