Distribution Automatique

Sunday, October 12

"...You ask whether I should continue to write
if no one but myself would ever see my work.
There is no reason to believe that anyone will
ever see any more of my work; you may change
your mind about another book. Anyone who has
known a number of poets must have been struck
by their extraordinary egotism. There is not the
slightest doubt that egotism is at the bottom of
what a good many poets do. However, there are
other theories about that: for instance, there is the
theory that writing poetry is a sexual activity. The
truth is that egotism is at the bottom of everything
everybody does, and that, if some really acute observer
made as much of egotism as Freud has made of sex,
people would forget a good deal about sex and find
the explanation for everything in egotism. I write poetry
because I want to write it.

We are likely to give many incorrect explanations for what
we do instinctively. It is very easy for me to say that I write
poetry in order to formulate my ideas and to relate myself
to the world. That is why I think that I should continue to
write poetry whether or not anybody ever saw it, and
certainly I write lots of it that nobody ever sees. We are all
busy thinking things that nobody ever knows about. If a woman
in her room is such an exciting subject of speculation, a man in
his thoughts is equally exciting."

Very truly yours,

Wallace Stevens

[letter 339 to Ronald Lane Latimer, Hartford Conn.
January 10, 1936, p. 305, *Letters of Wallace
Stevens*, edited by Holly Stevens, 1996]