‘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 11 April 2013

Napoleon Antichrist!

Available to read in full on Google Books -- Lewis Mayer’s A Hint to England; or, A Prophetic Mirror containing an explanation of prophecy that relates to the French nation, and the threatened invasion; proving Bonaparte to be the Beast that arose out of the Earth, with Two Horns like a Lamb, and spake as a Dragon, whose Number is 666 (1803). It's not a lengthy pamphlet (36 pages), and worth a gander. I especially like the final peroration, in which Mayer proves ‘from the general tenor of prophecy’ that not only is Britain destined to subsume France into the British Empire (‘the British nation will display her banners on the Gallic Shores’), but also conquer the rest of the globe, or at least ‘extend her influence over the Continent of Europe and Asia’, as well as to ‘re-establish the Jews in their ancient possessions’ and ‘give universal peace to the world.’ It says it in the Bible! It must be true.

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