‘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, 16 November 2014

[G W M Reynolds], A Sequel To Don Juan (1843)

Reynolds' name is in square brackets, in the title to this blogpost, because it's suspected but hasn't, I think, been proven he's the author. It is what it says it is: an (unauthorised, of course) sequel to Byron's Don Juan, five cantos with a further eleven promised if the work prove popular. We assume it didn't.

I've owned this for many years, although now I am selling it -- it's on ebay, although I'll do a discount for readers of this blog. *grins* (Lord knows how painful it is for me to part with any of my books, but needs must when the devil of financial squeezing drives, and a bunch of books have gone into the e-marketplace. *sigh*) You can get a sense of the versification easily enough:

Never a good sign when an author feels he has to explain his jokes. So: in keeping with the through-line of the poem (viz., the redemption of Juan into polite society), the volume is illustrated throughout with contemporary society beauties posing as characters in the poem. Frontispiece:

And the rest:

I don't want to give the impression it's all well-bred politesse. For an 1843 publication it gets pretty racy, although in the soft-focus rather dishonest mode of 1970s porn rather than the honest obscenity of Byron's original:

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