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[268] Norse hero could drink. Readers of Milton often misinterpret his line,

And every shepherd tells his tale,

in a similar manner, and the shepherd is supposed by many young readers to be pouring out a story of love or of adventure, whereas he is merely counting up the number of his sheep.

It will always remain uncertain how far Poe influenced the New England poets, whether by example or avoidance. That he sometimes touched Lowell, and not for good, is unquestionable, in respect to rhythm; but it will always remain a question whether his influence did not work in the other direction with Longfellow in making him limit himself more strictly to a narrow range of metrical structure. It was an admirable remark of Tennyson's that ‘every short poem should have a definite shape like the curve, sometimes a single, sometimes a double one, assumed by a severed tress, or the rind of an apple when flung to the floor.’1 This type of verse was rarely attempted by Longfellow, but he chose it most appropriately for ‘Seaweed’ and in some degree succeeded. Poe himself in his waywardness could not adhere to it when he reached it, and after giving us in the original form of ‘Lenore,’ as published in ‘The Pioneer,’

1 Tennyson's Life, by his son, i. 507.

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