‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

James Henry, 'Byron' (1859)

From Poematia (1866). A not untypical High Victorian attitude to Byron, actually.

The proud son of a vicious, heartless father,
The vain son of a weak, indulgent mother,
The tyrant husband of a blameless wife,
The sentimental sire of one unhappy
Legitimate daughter — of how many more,
Unhappy chance-sown, he knows not, nor cares —
See where before the world, for admiration,
With front unblushing, George Lord Byron stands
And wins of the whole world the admiration,
Pugilist, fencer, brawler, spendthrift, rake,
Lover of bull-dogs, friend of ribald Little,
Bully of Harrow school, ere quite fourteen,
Champion, at thirty-six, of rebel Greece,
All his life long, bad poet and worse man.
Hide, hide your heads, ye virtuous, learned, and wise;
Follow Astraea, Muses, to the skies.
Rosamond, Sept. 12, 1859.

No comments:

Post a Comment