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.
The first epics were intended for recitation; the literary epic is meant to be read.
For the stage displays the first vigorous expression, as the natural thing and without conspicuous restraint, of private individuality.
An epic is not made by piecing together a set of heroic lays, adjusting their discrepancies and making them into a continuous narrative.
The reason can only be this: heroic poetry depends on an heroic age, and an age is heroic because of what it is, not because of what it does.
Poetry is the work of poets, not of peoples or communities; artistic creation can never be anything but the production of an individual mind.
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.
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.