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Two Rivulets

This is the second volume of Whitman's "Centennial Edition," a second printing, presumed first state of binding (Myerson, p. 201), with Whitman’s autograph on the title page.  On the flyleaf is Whitman's autograph inscription to Charles Scribner (“from the author”).   Charles Scribner II, son of the founder of the publishing firm, had graduated from Princeton the year before the volume was published.  Long neglected, Two Rivulets, which provocatively combines previously written poems and prose (such as Democratic Vistas), is now being recognized as an experiment in typography and genre. 

Whitman, Rivulets 2

Walt Whitman. Two Rivulets:  Including Democratic Vistas, Centennial Songs, and Passage to India. Author’s Edition. Camden, NJ, 1876.

Notice the running prose text at the bottom of each page in the first section of the volume, set in smaller font and separated by a wavy line from the poetry, which is set in larger type:  a creative juxtaposition that questions boundaries between genres.  In the reader’s imagination, at least, prose and poetry fuse, as do the two volumes of Whitman’s “Centennial Edition”; consider how the poem shown here, “Out From Behind This Mask,” comments on the Linton portrait facing “The Wound-Dresser” in the first volume of the Centennial edition, Leaves of Grass.