Ah! from mine eyes the tears unbidden start,Coleridge's comment on this sonnet (in the letter quoted in the letter quoted in the previous post) is 'the parenthesis always [interr]upts the tide of my feelings'. And it is indeed a clunking great parenthesis: although not so distracting, to my eye, as the weird wrench of the sentiment of the poem at line 13-14: from eager hope and joy to a sudden sighing misery.
Albion! As now thy cliffs (that white appear
Far o’er the wave, and their proud summits rear
To meet the beams of morn) my beating heart
With eager hope and filial transport hails!
Scenes of my youth, reviving gales ye bring,
As when erewhile the tuneful morn of spring
Joyous awoke amidst your hawthorn vales,
And fill’d with fragrance every painted plain:
Fled are those hours, and all the joys they gave,
Yet still I sigh, and count each rising wave
That bears me nearer to your haunts again;
If haply, 'mid those woods and vales so fair,
Stranger to peace, I yet may meet her there.
‘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 June 2013
Bowles 18: On a Distant View of England
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