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THE plan for a group of stories under the fiction of a company of story-tellers at an inn appears to have visited Mr. Longfellow after he had made some progress with the separate tales. The considerable collection under the title of The Saga of King Olaf was indeed written at first with the design of independent publication. “The thought struck me this morning," writes the poet, February 25, 1859, “ that a very good poem might be written on the Saga of King Olaf, who converted the North to Christianity. Read the old Saga in the Heimskringla, Laing's translation. The Challenge of Thor will serve as a prelude.” This poem had been written about ten years before as prologue or Introitus to the second part of Christus.

Nearly two years passed before he took up the task in earnest; then, in November, 1860, “ with all kinds of interruptions,” he says, he wrote fifteen of the lyrics in as many days, and a few days afterward completed the whole of the Saga. Meanwhile he had written and published Paul Revere's Ride in The Atlantic, and before the publication of his volume he had printed in the same magazine one of the lyrics of the Saga and The Legend of Rabbi Ben Levi. Just when he determined upon



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