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Not Human

In response to:

Wallace Stevens, Imperator from the December 1, 1966 issue

To the Editors:

The publication of The Letters of Wallace Stevens is a literary event of great importance and Denis Donoghue is to be congratulated for his excellent review (Dec. 1). The Letters, if we are to judge the review, will help to obliterate the dichotomy that still persists between Stevens the insurance executive and Stevens our modern poet.

I would like to call your attention however, to what I believe is a misquotation. Mr. Donoghue says, “If you identify yourself with your imagination you are unlikely to rest long in its abeyance; especially if you believe, as Stevens did, that ‘God and the human imagination are one.’ ” If I am correct, Mr. Donoghue is alluding to a line from the “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” (Collected Poems, p. 524), which actually reads “God and the imagination are one.” “Imagination” is not qualified by the word “human.” I hope I will not be accused of quibbling over a minor inaccuracy. The distinction is important because, as Mr. Donoghue points out, to Stevens, to be human was to be imaginatively alive and vice versa….

Barbara S. Meeker

Oneonta, New York

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