‘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.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Kafka Limericks

There was a young writer called Kafka
Who wanted to make people laughka;
He sketched out a bug
But readers went “ugh!”
And that became his epitaphka.

Promoted to chief of suspects
Is the last thing that Josef expects.
Though he plays it naive
And hopes for reprieve
De joe semper curat this lex.

A feller called Greg, while he dozes
Transforms from his head to his toeses:
Among other miracles
Lungs become spiracles—
He's bugged by these metamorphoses.

Curled up in his bed cosy-foetal
G. Samsa's dreams (sour, not sweet)'ll
See him regress
With rock star excess
From Let It Be to Meet the Beetle!