‘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, 22 April 2015

Pervigilium Finneganis



Following on from my previous post, here's the beginning of my (we can be honest: long overdue) translation of Finnegans Wake into Latin:
curretfluvius, et transierunt Eva et Adam, declinationem ab litore ad flectere lauri, commodius ab nobis facit Houuthī vicus de castro et recirculus ad circumstant.

Tristram Eques, violator Francorum amat, ab super brevis mare transierat core iterum venit ab Aquilone Armorica erant hinc et longum invalidi isthmus Europa Minor vetui pugnam penisolate bellum: et habebant summo fabri saxa a flumine Oconee affingebat se ad Laurens Comitatu scriptor gorgios dum irent Doublinum eorum mendicabulum omni tempore: neque avoice ex incendit; rugiebam mishe mishe ad tauf-tauf tuartpeatricus nondum erat, quanquam venissii post, quam ad puerscade finisanus a coelum isaaci: non tamen, quamquam omnia aequa in vanessia, erant soror sestheri irascaris duunus nathetjoe. Gerrae modios pa scriptor Jhemus aut braseum habuit braciatam ad lucem et inter Sen et rugiens, et usque ad angulum perveniret ad videndum quasisignaculum, regginbruus fuit aqua super faciem suam.

Lapsum (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarr-hounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurus—nuc!) De muro a olim vetus Parro mane in lecto, et postea in aeternum manet semen eorum vita per omnia Carminibus Christianis. Lapsum magnus murum importatur tam celeriter pftjschutus de Finneganis, prius solidum homo, qui est campus caputmontishumptii se propere mittit percontamur an bene ad occidentem in quest tumptytumdigiti sui: faciesque eorum vicissimpunctumindoloetlocus est ad mé in hortos, ubi fuerint citra repositus est diabolo quoniam Deus prior dilexit livvius super viridi.
More to follow. Pervigilium refers to the vigil that was kept during Roman funerary practices, and, as a word, usefully points in the same two directions as Joyce's 'Wake': towards death and remembrance on the one hand, and towards vigilance and wakefulness on the other. Obviously, I'm waiting for a publisher to push serious sums of money my way to complete this project. It could be the breakthrough blockbuster title of 2016. Hic omnes pervenerit!

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