Excerpt from The Canada Book of Prose and Verse, Vol. 4
History and literature are alike concerned with the doings of mankind. Since history is the record Of man's past, set down in order as it happened, you might think that, as a form of writing, history had preceded poetry and imaginative literature in general. Primitive man, however, was more interested in experience than in preserving an accurate record of things after they had happened. Whatever impressed him he recorded in speech which was Often strongly rhythmical, partly because of the feeling by which it was inspired and partly because metre, when there are no written books, is an excellent aid to the memory.
Even in recording events as they were supposed to have happened, early writers saw no harm in adding and subtracting, in heightening the bright lights, or deepening the Shadows, to make a story better. Early history is in consequence so mixed with myth and legend that it is difficult to separate them. It is the poet, not the historian, who in early days records the deeds of his ancestors, and tries to glorify them.
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