‘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 30 January 2016

William Mason, The English Garden (1772), 184-215

Of Nature's various scenes the Painter culls
That for his fav'rite theme, where the fair whole
Is broken into ample parts, and bold;
Where to the eye three well-mark'd distances
Spread their peculiar colouring. Vivid green,
Warm brown, and black opake the fore-ground bears
Conspicuous; sober olive coldly marks
The second distance; thence the third declines
In softer blue, or, less'ning still, is lost
In faintest purple. When thy taste is call'd
To deck a scene where Nature's self presents
All these distinct gradations, then rejoice
As does the Painter, and like him apply
Thy colours; plant thou on each separate part
Its proper foliage. Chief, for there thy skill
Has its chief scope, enrich with all the hues
That flowers, that shrubs, that trees can yield, the sides
Of that fair path, from whence our sight is led
Gradual to view the whole. Where'er thou wind'st
That path, take heed between the scene and eye,
To vary and to mix thy chosen greens.
Here for a while with cedar or with larch,
That from the ground spread their close texture, hide
The view entire. Then o'er some lowly tuft,
Where rose and woodbine bloom, permits its charms
To burst upon the sight; now through a copse
Of beech, that rear their smooth and stately trunks,
Admit it partially, and half exclude,
And half reveal its graces: in this path
How long soe'er the wanderer roves, each step
Shall wake fresh beauties; each short point present
A different picture, new, and yet the same.

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