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Printing poetry

I ended up side-tracked today in reading poetry from the history of printing. Some highlights -

From Markland's Typographia (1730)
Part IX
Yet fair befal His Fame,
And may his Mem'ry long
In latest Annals live,
Who first contriv'd the wondrous Frame,
That to dead Types supply'd a Tongue,
And Speech to lifeless Characters could give.

O well was he employ'd the while,
And happy was the vent'rous To[m]
His Breast had compass'd some great Thought.
Tho' formless yet, and void,
His busy Faculties were all employ'd,
How future Ages might be surest taught,
By old Examples, long since done,
What Paths to follow, what to shun,
How Vertue ev'n in Death befriends,
And how Ambition ends,
How Socrates instructed, Caesar fought,
Long Time, his swelling Breast
The great Idea had opprest,
Till, fix'd at Length, he in a Rapture bid,
Come up with a glorious, great Design, - And so it did.

From Fournier's Manuel Typographique (1764)
Pour consacrer la mémoire des faits,
On emprunta d'abord les traits de la Nature.
Hiéroglyphes obscurs, signes trop imparfaits,
Cédez la place à l'Écriture.

C'est de Dieu que nous vient cet Art ingénieux
De peindre la parole & de parle aux yeux,
Et par des traits divers de figures tracées,
Donner de la couleur & du corps aux pensées.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that. I see that to the 18th century writer print was an expression of classicism, and the endurance of forms. A 19th century writer might have said (but I don't know if anyone did) that the essence of printing is not how it preserves form, but how it allows infinite recombination.

BTW will send you the text I promised later today
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
I thought I'd escaped my momentary fascination with this, but you're tempting me to go looking for 19th century poetry on the subject now.

P.S. Thank you very much!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )