‘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.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Emblemes d'Alciat (1549)

Wondering, during an idle hour, if Shakespeare's family chose their 'Non Sanz Droict' from a book of french emblems, I checked online. Emblemes d'Alciat, de nouueau Translatez en François; [par B. Aneau] (1549) popped up on Googlebooks. No Shakespear-y joy here, but it's a fascinating book nonetheless, and one that seems to have anticipated many 20th- and 21st-century films. Pan's Labyrinth!


That scene in The Matrix where the agents fight all bullet-timey!

The flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz!

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