‘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.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Samuel Bowden, 'Verses in Praise of an Eminent Old Speaker Among the Quakers' (1754)

The full title is 'Verses in PRAISE of an Eminent Old SPEAKER Among the QUAKERS. Remarkable for his Venerable BEARD and SANCTITY OF MANNERS.’ Er, in that order?
In thee, O! venerable sage! we find
Simplicity of manners, and of mind:
With grave demeanor, and majestic grace,
A philosophic beard adorns thy face;
Humble deportment, free from pride appears,
And calls for sacred homage to thy years.
Like trees in blossom snowy age has shed
Its hoary honours o'er thy reverend head.
Let the vain world external pomp adore,
And worship fools with tinsel varnish'd o'er;
In vain unthinking fops thy garb despise,
Whose merit only in the outside lies;
In In vain deride the quaker's simple dress,
What more than nature wants is all excess.
What more than cold requires, or hunger needs,
Only our folly, or our luxury feeds.
Content with little, and with virtue blest,
Vain, and superfluous, is all the rest.
Thy dress is such as cloath'd the antient sage,
And patriarchs wore in the primæval age.
'Twas thus the old philosophers were clad,
E're the vain world grew dissolute and mad.
'Twas thus the Druids liv'd, the Bramins drest,
And all the sapient Magi of the east.
Thus Quintus liv'd, and rigid Cato shin'd,
E'er vice prevail'd, and polish'd Rome declin'd.
Who guided armys, and the truncheon bore,
With the same hand, which held the plough before.
'Twas thus Lycurgus form'd the Spartan state,
Plain in their manners, but in virtue great.
[Bowden, Poems on Various Subjects (1754), 204]

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