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UTEL

Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Organic form:

A term used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to describe the form that results when imagination -- a superior mental faculty that "dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate" -- generates a work of art. According to Coleridge, organic form "is innate; it shapes as it develops from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form." The development of a poem, then, is seen to be analogous with the growth of a plant, whose evolutionary energy is drawn from within until, finally, it achieves organic unity or perfect form. (See also Mechanic form.)


© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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Last modified: March 31, 1997