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It is more difficult to keep the attention of hearers than of readers.
If epic poetry is a definite species, the sagas do not fall within it.
For the stage displays the first vigorous expression, as the natural thing and without conspicuous restraint, of private individuality.
Epic poetry exhibits life in some great symbolic attitude. It cannot strictly be said to symbolize life itself, but always some manner of life.
By the general process of epic poetry, I mean the way this form of art has constantly responded to the profound needs of the society in which it was made.
But the gravest difficulty, and perhaps the most important, in poetry meant solely for recitation, is the difficulty of achieving verbal beauty, or rather of making verbal beauty tell.
But the development of human society does not go straight forward; and the epic process will therefore be a recurring process, the series a recurring series - though not in exact repetition.
An epic is not made by piecing together a set of heroic lays, adjusting their discrepancies and making them into a continuous narrative.
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