‘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.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Beasts and Saints

In the library the other day I chanced upon a lovely edition of Helen Waddell's Beasts and Saints (1934), a "collection of stories of the mutual charities between saints and beasts, from the end of the fourth to the end of the twelfth century translated from the original Latin and illustrated with many wood cuts." I liked the pictures and took photos with my phone, but foolishly I forgot to note down which image was which saint. The first one is presumably St Brendan. The middle one is the Dragon tamed by the Blessed Ammon. I'm told (by Karl Steel) that the guy reading a book whilst riding the placid crocodile (my favourite image, actually) is St Pachome.








No comments:

Post a Comment