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Tracy Robinson to Walt Whitman, 31 December 1890

 loc.03564.001.jpg To Walt Whitman Camden, N.J. U.S.A. Dear Sir,

I am the glad owner of a copy in two volumes—"Leaves of Grass" and "Two Rivulets"—of your works, Author's Centennial Edition, with photograph and Autograph.1 I am an old resident of this Isthmus, but, a New Yorker by birth and education, I am, I trust, a thorough American. These highly prized volumes of yours, and mine, became the latter by subscription, through my dear dead sister, (then Mrs Andrew Jackson Davis,2) at the time of their publication. They have lain now a long time in New York until I sent for them and they came a month ago

 loc.03564.002.jpg  loc.03564.003.jpg

Not to weary you, I have now read over again Preface, Poems and Notes of "Two Rivulets," and "Democratic Vistas" since the books came, and am impelled to say to you that I rejoice greatly that my country has given birth to one who has placed on record so grand a presentation of her case! Entering upon the New Year, let me then, my dear Walt Whitman, send you warm greeting from the Tropic world, and wish you all things good and happy! I too have ventured a little upon verse, (of which I will send you an unbound copy, having at present none other) and hope I am a "live American." The prose 4th of July address pray look at though you let the verses go by.

Let me remain forever yours Tracy Robinson  loc.03564.004.jpg

Tracy Robinson (1833–1915) was an official with the Panama Railroad Company and a longtime resident of Panama. He was the author of a history of Panama entitled Panama: A Personal Record of Forty-six Years, 1861–1907 (New York: Star and Herald Company, 1907). He was also the author of Song of the Palm and Other Poems, Mostly Tropical (New York: Brentanos, 1888), which may have been the volume that he promised to send to Whitman.


  • 1. During America's centennial celebration in 1876, Whitman, reissued the fifth edition of Leaves of Grass in the repackaged form of a "Centennial Edition" and "Author's Edition," with each copy personally signed by Whitman. Around the same time, Whitman also brought out, as part of the nation's centennial celebration, his Two Rivulets, an experiment in prose and poetry, with (in the first section of the book) poetry printed at the top of the page and separated by a wavy line from the stream of prose at the bottom of each page. For more information on these books, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, "Leaves of Grass, 1876, Author's Edition" and "Two Rivulets, Author's Edition [1876]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
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