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Chapter 8: Poe and Whitman Enter now two egotists, who have little in common save their egotism, two outsiders who upset most of the conventional American rules for winning the literary race, two men of genius, in short, about whom we are still quarreling, and whose distinctive quality is more accurately perceived in Europe than it has ever been in the United States. Both Poe and Whitman were Romanticists by temperament. Both shared in the tradition and influence of European Romanticism. But they were also late comers, and they were caught in the more morbid and extravagant phases of the great European movement while its current was beginning to ebb. Their acquaintance with its literature was mainly at second-hand and through the medium of British and American periodicals. Poe, who was older than Whitman by ten years, was fifteen when Byron died, in 1824. He was untouched by the nobler mood of Byron, though his verse was colored by the influence of Byron, Moore, and Shel