‘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.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Was it Kipling who once said ...?

Sir Bors and the Holy Grail.

Sir Bors achieved the Holy Grail and so took it home with him.
And it was naught but a handled beaker made out of hammered tin;
And he set it high on his sideboard shelf to jostle with clutter and mould
And there the beaker hoarded its magic until his life was old.
For that's when he took it down again and wondered at its design,
And said 'I've owned it all these years, and forgot that it never was mine.'
And he polished it up and held it, and took it and threw it outside,
And soon as he'd done so he laughed in release, and laid himself down and he died.

1 comment:

  1. No, because if he had that would have been one of six verses, with a refrain printed in italics and full of exclamation marks, and it would have ended up as an affirmation of muscular Christianity. But it's not bad. For:

    There's poets doin' good business, and there's some that's doin' time,
    But there isn't one in ten of 'em can turn a decent rhyme!
    And if they don't get the message 'ere, they'll learn it soon in 'Ell:
    If you want to pastiche Kipling, you have got to Do It Well!

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