As a matter of fact, this was not the original form of the Longfellow
passage, which was,—
The buried treasures of dead centuries,
The burning tropic skies.
More than this, the very word ‘miser’ was not invariably used in this passage by the poet, as during an intermediate period it had been changed to ‘pirate,’ a phrase in some sense more appropriate and better satisfying the ear. The curious analogy to Wordsworth
's line did not therefore lie in the original form of his own poem, but was an afterthought.
It is fortunate that this curious combination of facts, all utterly unconscious on his part, did not attract the attention of Poe
during his vindictive period.
It is to be noticed, however, that Longfellow
apparently made all these changes to satisfy his own judgment, and did not make them, as Whittier
and even Browning
often did, in deference to the judgment of dull or incompetent critics.
It is to be remembered that even the academic commentators on Longfellow
still leave children to suppose that the Berserk
's tale in ‘The Skeleton in Armor’ refers to a supposed story that the Berserk was telling; although the word ‘tale’ is unquestionably used in the sense of ‘tally’ or ‘reckoning,’ to indicate how much ale the