‘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.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Doctor Panurgus Curing the Folly of his Patients by Purgation (c.1630)

Isn't this splendid? It's by Martin Droeshout, he of the Shakespeare First Folio portrait. From that Wikipedia link we learn that it's:
an allegory of the follies of modern life, depicting figures representing Country, Town and Court life being treated by the doctor. The design has a complicated ancestry, being an adaptation of an earlier print by Greuter, which itself drew on emblem book designs. Droeshout, or perhaps an unknown person who designed it, seems to have made a number of specific elaborations of the image, including extensive text, adding extra characters and English and Latin phrases, notably verses explaining how the doctor is purging the three figures of their respective moral illnesses. He pours "Wisdome and Understanding" down the throat of an ignorant rustic and smokes the brain of the "gallant" (courtier) in an oven to burn away the vanity in it (represented by various images going up in smoke). Two other figures wait to have their own brains smoked. Inset are other designs referring to the religious controversy of the era over pluralism. The whole is filled with boxed passages of satirical moral verse of unknown authorship.
Click to embiggen, so as to see the varied 'fancies' that are being sublimed out of the court dandy's head: lots of passtimes and games, from musical instruments and backgammon to hunting with dogs; but also two theatrical masks, and a whole big church with a man falling off the roof, perhaps an over-elaborate way of suggesting insufficient piety. I presume the brick kiln is cracked not to indict the equipment of the good doctor but rather to suggest the very great heat necessary to boil such deep-rooted fancies away. Also, there's this fairy fellow. What's he about?

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