‘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 25 April 2020

Excerpts from T S Eliot's "Covid Wasteland"

“April is the Covid month, breeding
Lockdowns out of the dread bug, mixing
Boredom and more boredom, watching
Netflix with much wine.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Minds in blessed ignorance
Of how bad this all could get.
Trump surprised us, suggesting we all guzzle bleach and”


“Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Can't get a Coronavirus test
Not being a celebrity. Here, said she,
Is your card, the shag-haired British P.M.
(Those his words they all are lies. Look!)
Here is Kier Starmer, the starmerer,
The stare-eyed.”


“O O O O that Televehision Rag—
Let's watch Tiger-King
It's quite baffling
‘What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so.’

‘Don't do that. The police will have a word.’”


“Virus the Increasing, logarithmic dead,
Ignores the cry of trolls, the news cycle
The profit and loss.
                                A current under all
Picks our lives to whispers. As it rises
We pass the stages of our age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

Consider Virus.”


“—O sallow sallow
Le Prince Maladie au monde abolie
London Town is falling down falling down falling down
Why then Ile fit you. POTUS’s mad againe.
Cough. Shallowcough. Deepcough.
       Wuhantih        Wuhantih        Wuhantih

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