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That is to say, epic poetry has been invented many times and independently; but, as the needs which prompted the invention have been broadly similar, so the invention itself has been.
Poetry is the work of poets, not of peoples or communities; artistic creation can never be anything but the production of an individual mind.
No poet will ever take the written word as a substitute for the spoken word; he knows that it is on the spoken word, and the spoken word only, that his art is founded.
It seems difficult, sometimes, to believe that there was a time when sentiments now become habitual, sentiments that imply not only the original imperative of conduct, but the original metaphysic of living, were by no means altogether habitual.
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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