‘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.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Frederic William Burton, "The Meeting on the Turret Stairs" (1864). National Gallery of Ireland


10 comments:

  1. A watercolour that looks like oils, it's a beautiful image, no question: recently voted Ireland's favourite picture, and you can see why. But I don't think it's about what it appears to be about. It presents as a moment of stolen passion, as Hellalyle and Hildebrand meet in passing on a staircase; the knight kisses the lady's arm, expressing their suppressed but burning and mutual love. Fair enough. But what mostly strikes me about this image is how chaste it all is: Hellalyle in the Virgin Mary's blue, turning her face away, the revealed fur of her mantle's lining cascading down from her wrist like a white vagina of inaccessible purity; and Hildebrand's sword not phallic and proud, but rather a downward diagonal as if cancelling out the groin in front of which it hangs, and his helmet like a mendicant's bowl. Of course, this could just be me ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be clear, I'm not denying that the image possesses an erotic charge; I'm only suggesting that it is a chaste person's idea of what erotic charge is like.

      Delete
    2. thanks for posting, it's a lovely and rather odd picture … the erotic tingle and the ingenious way the figures are crammed into the composition, facing away on a narrow staircase, intimate strangers … draping of mail on forearm is so well-done

      Delete
  2. I'm just gonna throw this in here but the helm's reflections, its position as a bowl/grail and the angle and position of the sword hilt may naysay thy theory, Adam...although they are both held on the knight side. Bloody patriarchy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your reading. It's more loving, as well as being sexier, than mine. I'm trapped in the lobster-pot of patriarchy, no doubt!

      Delete
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