‘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.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Athanasii Kircheri, Iter extaticum coeleste: quo mundi opificium, id est coelestis expansi siderumque tam errantium (1660)

That title means 'A journey in the form of a trance to the heavens, or how the universe of the wide heavens and wandering stars is made'. And here's the title page:


  1. "Errantium" agrees with "siderum" - i.e. "the moving stars" or planets. The illustration seems to show the sun moving around the Earth & everything else moving around the sun - wasn't that Tycho's idea?

  2. Good catch! Thank you, Phil. I have amended. And yes: Kircher denied Copernicus and agreed with Brahe; hence you see the earth in the middle, the sun going round the earth and all the other planets going around the sun,