THE POET 207 �tradition in Virginia than in any other state. And it is not improbable that Poe heard some of these bal- lads sung during his more impressionable years in Richmond, and in Albemarle County, for they are still sung by white and black, by old and young, and with all the old haunting refrains and reduplicate repeti- tions that make them unforgettable when once heard. �But if he did not hear them sung, he at least knew them from books and from the imitations that were built upon them or woven around them. The only other kind of song that shares with the ballad the re- sources of multiform repetition is the religious folk- song of the negro as sung on the plantations, in the homes, and in the tobacco factories of the South. A southerner can hardly help believing that the croon- ing lullabies, the plantation melodies, the labor songs of the negro slaves were at least subsidiary sources of Poe's lyrical technique. In matter and manner, in the waning of thought and the correspondent waxing of music, in the willingness of each sentence to merge its individuality into the larger life of the stanza and the self-sacrifice of the stanza in behalf of a still larger and more exigent totality, the resemblance between the two is insistently close. But whatever the source, Poe's poems are not to be construed as isolated and unrelated products. They are ballads in form, in spirit, and in effect, though the form has been diversi- fied, the spirit etherealized, and the effect heightened. To know them, the best avenue of approach is the bal- lad ; and to enrich your knowledge of the ballad, the best angle of retrospect is the poetry of Poe. �Another problem relates not to the form or source of Poe's verse but to the themes that he elected to ��� �
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