‘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.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Dalek Et Decorum Est

Hunched, squat, a giant pepperpot on wheels,
Blob-skirted, screeching loud and cursing life:
Hate-anger is the only thing it feels
Its only passion is a love of strife.
Stairs prove no obstacle; it floats right up
On levitating platforms, and moves on:
Its right prong is a deadly sucker-cup
Its left a laser-shooting deathray gun.

Thals! THALS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of shooting
Zapping the clumsy humans just in time,
Though someone still is yelling out and hooting
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
And via cheap BBC effects, we see
Him flailing as the screen flicks dark and bright
And falling down, in death-scene Equity.

If you could see, on Sat’day's early night
Enemies tumble, victors gliding high,
The lasers blasting, explosions loud and bright
Distorted voices voicing their one cry—
See eye-stalks rising in heil-hitler mode,
Aggresive in pursuit of destiny
The Kaled Reich now set upon the road
That gifts the master race the galaxy—
My friend, you'd also hotly advocate
Those words, the ones that silence all debate,
The old Truth: Exterminate! Exterminate!

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