‘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.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

"Orlando Fvrioso in English Heroical Verse" by John Harringto[n] (1591)

This first edition of Harrington's translation of Ariosto is for sale at Bonham's (guide price £4,000-6,000. Were I rich, I'd be properly tempted). As you can see, this edition has had its illustrations hand-coloured. I don't know how common this practice was, but presumably it was a way of adding value to, and therefore charging more for, your book. Very pretty, at any rate, in a psychedelic sort of way.

 If you click on the Bonham's link, there, you can zoom in on the coloured plates to your heart's content. And if you choose to buy the book, can I come round to yours and have a look at it?

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