Nascitur cygnus: sibi rex videtur,
Impiger pigrae dominus paludis
Matris in dorso sedet, it reditque
Pascitur frustris puerumque donis
Ponte deiectis. Famulos moratur
Qui via spissa properant ferentes
Nam placent Omni modo nata menti
Regnat in terra dea pulchritudo:
Quod novum ridet tenerumque captat
Attamen cygni teneri parentes
Ambiunt prolem male suspicaces;
Sibilant, strident, agitant minaci
Non amor noster sociandus illi:
Di vetant Musas hominum potentes
Scire quid nymphae doceant sodales
Cygnet is born: believes himself monarch,
fast-moving lord of the slow-moving marshes:
throned on his mother's back, passing, repassing,
we all look out for him.
Gobbles up scraps and whatever boys feed him
tossed from the bridge; tempts servants to linger
hurrying on up the traffic-jammed roadway
with stuff for the kitchens.
Everyone falls for what's prettily new-born:
Beauty's a goddess whose writ runs the world round:
everything smilingly new is a winner --
lights up the crowd!
Ah but the parents of tender young Cygnet
swim round their youngster in sour apprehension;
hissing and screaming, they stir up the water
in threatening wing-strikes.
Let's hope that our love is never so snarly:
Gods prevent Muses (who govern humanity)
even to know what the nymphs teach their followers,
whose voices are silenced.
‘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.