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Yale Degree

To the Editors:

Your readers may be interested in the following:

May 30, 1968

Kingman Brewster, President

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Dear President Brewster:

I have been trying to reach you by telephone, but it has been difficult because you have been away or at a meeting, and I have been away following Senator McCarthy’s campaign. I wish in some part of the ceremony, preferably just after receiving my degree, to speak the following sentence: “I know that I am being honored mostly, and probably entirely, for my poetry; still I wish to express my gratitude to this University for now honoring me, when I stand in much the same position, and perhaps in some of the same danger, as William Coffin of Yale and Benjamin Spock of Yale, and other defendants at Boston.”

Now the point is to get this uttered or at least printed very openly and very quietly. I think I owe this to my honor and to the occasion, and have tried to make my words as uninflammatory, unrhetorical and unembarrassing as possible. Of course we are all grateful to you for your gentle and skillful handling of the Coffin business.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Lowell

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