Death Song

Thomas McGrath, Author, Sam Hamill, Editor, Dale Jacobson, Illustrator Copper Canyon Press $19 (0p) ISBN 978-1-55659-035-1
McGrath ( Selected Poems 1938-1988 ), who died last year, wrote poetry that uncovers the sublime in the common. This collection adds to his store of popular wisdom, but the beauty and power of its language transcends the limitations he found in ordinary life. Descending ``through the guts of the great misery machine,'' his metaphor for capitalist society (he was an avowed communist, for which he was blacklisted as a screenwriter), the poet longs ``to pass from this anguish of passings / Into the calm of an indifferent joy.'' While filled with deep political convictions--``Politics is the continuation of war / by other means''--McGrath invokes a world that politics cannot divide: ``It's a lonesome old world as the old song says: waiting for transport. / But time and again a friend brightens a dark door.'' This is the essence of his communism: community, a life made whole by collective action. Until that time arrives, in McGrath's opinion, ``That's what we are: / Seeds in the cold wind. . . / The wind always blowing. . . .'' His words, like a Zen master's, remind us that the secret of life is in the living of it. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 117 pages - 978-1-55659-036-8
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