Wallace Stevens's alleged deathbed conversion

A letter from Father Arthur Hanley to Professor Janet McCann, dated July 24, 1977, with line breaks, punctuation, spelling, etc. exactly as in the typescript:

Dear Janet:

I-The First time he came to the hospital, he expressed
a certain emptiness in his life.
His stay then was two weeks.

Two weeks later, he was in, and he asked the sister to send for me.
We sat and talked a long time.
During his visit this time, I saw him 9 or 10 times.
He was fascinated by the life of Pope Pius X,.
He spoke about a poem for this pope whose family name
was Sartori--- ( Meaning tailor)
At least 3 times, he talked about getting into the fold--
meaning the Catholic Church.
The doctrine of hell was an objection which we later
got thru that alright.

He often remarked about the peace and tranquility that
he experienced in going into a Catholic Church and
spending some time.  He spoke about St. Patrick's Cathedral
in N.Y..
I can't give you the date of his baptism.
I think it might be recorded at the hospital.
He said he had never been baptized.
He was baptized absolutely.

Wallace and his wife had not been on speaking terms for
several years.
So we thought it better not to tell her.
She might cause a scene in the hospital.

Archbishop at the time told me not to make his (Wallace's)
conversion public, but the sister and the nurses on the
floor were all aware of it and were praying for him.

At the time--I did get a copy of his poems and also
a record that he did of some of his poems.
We talked about some of the poems.
I quoted some of the lines of one of them and he was
He said if he got well, we would talk a lot more and
if not--he would see me in heaven.

That's about all I can give you now.

[Signed] God's Blessing
Father Hanley


Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/Stevens/conversion.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 26-Nov-1997 15:21:42 EST