‘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 23 September 2020

Coming Soon


[Update: December 1st, 2020] These are the, variously Dantean, epigraphs for this novel. Click for a clearer image:
I'm a big fan of epigraphs. And in this case they're particularly crucial to the working of the novel. That said, my twin worries are (a) people won't twig the Tennysonian gesture in the first; and, (b) with respect to the second, necessity (that is, copyright law) made me take out all specific references to Lord of the Rings in my text—Tolkien and Joyce being, obviously, the yin-yang of the 20th-C anglophone novel—thus defanging much of the textual and epigraphic point. Ah well: we work with what we have, not with what we'd like.