June 8, 1945

Dear Bill:

My friends are devouring your wonderful Introduction. Every substantial review has referred to its warmth and high spirits. I reply that the Introduction is just Bill Benét, my most loved American friend. The 'boys' chortle and chuckle over some of your paragraphs.

I am enclosing the last thing I have done. It is appearing in MacLean's Magazine (Canadian) next week and will be recited over the air through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation next Tuesday evening, June 12 at 10.15.

I was hoping first that I could submit it to an American publication, as MacLean's have only the Canadian rights, but I imagine that its prior appearance anywhere else would destroy its chance in an American magazine. I should like, however, to get the larger audience for it at least in sections. In any case, I shall be glad if you personally will like it.

In a week's time I am off to Halifax and expect to spend some time on a destroyer at the invitation of the Naval Department of Education. They have asked me to write a poem on the 'Haida' one of the Tribal Destroyers in the Canadian Navy. I shall be gone six weeks, and it might take me a year afterwards to do the job as it involves the study of the convoy system. This mission is a bit confidential as the war is still on with Japan and I cannot give names for publication. The stuff on its raw sides is hot.

I shall write you later when I get any dramatic information.

I spent last Tuesday night in Buffalo. The Phi Beta Kappa of the University of Buffalo invited me to give the address at the annual meeting – I spoke on 'The Titanic, a study in irony' and read excerpts from the poem. The Buffalowans are grand people. I love Americans anyway. You created my taste.

As ever,

Benét had written the introduction to the American edition of Pratt's Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 1945).

last thing I have done
They Are Returning, written by commission for Maclean's.

The Haida was a 'Tribal' class destroyer of the Royal Canadian Navy. It had had an extraordinary record of daring and successful exploits against German submarines during 1943-45 and was thus an obvious subject for a naval 'epic.' But learning that a former commander of the ship,
William Sclater, was writing a book about the Haida, Pratt chose to concentrate on the exploits of convoy S.C.42 during the height of the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. (See the letter to Viola Pratt, 14 July 1945.) In 1970 the Haida became a naval memorial at Ontario Place, Toronto.