Epic Poetry Class Discussion

EpicPoetry Class Discussion

In“A Preface to Paradise Lost,” the author argues that an oralpoetry line that can make a listener pause is undesirable as it makeshim, or her lose the subsequent statement. Instead, he argues thatappropriate oral poetry lines should be long to provide a recitationsweep. Long recitations deny listeners an opportunity to ponder overshort and accurate statements (Lewis 21). John Milton’s uses thisepic poetry writing approach in “Paradise Lost Book 1” to preventreaders pausing to absorb the information. For example, “Him theAlmighty Power/ Hurld headlong flaming from th` Ethereal Skie/ Withhideous ruine and combustion down/ To bottomless perdition, there todwell/ In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,/ Who durst defie th`Omnipotent to Arms (Milton 2).”

Thelong-sentenced text in the poem enables readers to understand theentire context of the subsequent lines, instead of focusing onunderstanding the meaning of individual lines. Besides, readersunderstand the text faster compared to individuals concentrating onreading one line at a time (Lewis 21). In my view, oral epic poetrycomposed with long lines is interesting to listeners because theyensure everybody hears and understands the statement of each line.However, the poets should use simple language and sentence structurefor listeners to understand statements fast.


Lewishas attempted to make the ancient and oral context of his primaryepic appropriate to secondary epic. He has made the text relevant toa secondary epic poem through listing potential secondary oral epics.For example, poetry based on a king, a portrait of a venerablefigure, poetry created for nobles and by nobles, as well as epicsbased on famous poets or warriors are all classes of secondarypoetry. The listed secondary poetry topics make the informationrelevant to a secondary poet reader. Secondary epic poetry is mainlybased on abstract issues. An example of lines describing an abstractissue in Paradise Lost include, “For those rebellious, here thirPrison ordain`d/ In utter darkness, and thir portion set/ As farremov`d from God and light of Heav`n / As from the Center thrice toth` utmost Pole. /O how unlike the place from whence they fell(Milton 3)!”

Onthe other hand, the author has used long epic poetry lines that donot allow readers to pause when reading. The feature is common inprimary epic poems as it avoids unnecessary distractions that mightmake a reader miss subsequent lines after pausing to analyze thefirst statement. In addition, he has used simple language to allowreaders to comprehend the information quickly. Primary epic poetryuse simple language and deals with real issues affecting modern humanbeings. For instance, lines eighty-two to ninety have nointerrupters. This ensures that a reader does not pause to analyze aprevious statement, which might make them miss subsequent lines’assertion (Lewis 21).


Accordingto Lewis, poetry is valuable to human beings since it is a method ofpreserving the history of humankind. People who could neither readnor write used epic poetry to keep and pass essential informationfrom one generation to another. The wording and rhythm madememorizing information easy compared to remembering content in proseform. In some cases, the poems were used for entertainment. Thenobles often used epic poems featuring rhythmic structure, integratedwith informative information, as a form of entertainment (Lewis 52).

Similarly,rhetoric is essential in poetry because it aims at intends to improvethe capability of speakers or writers to motivate, inform or persuadegiven audiences in particular environments. Lewis claims thatrhetoric was a substantial component of the civic practice andproductivity (Lewis 53).


Lewis,C S. APreface to Paradise Lost.New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2005. Print.

Milton,John. ParadiseLost.Cambridge: University Press, 1902. Print.

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