infallible test

In poetry, in which every line, every phrase, may pass the ordeal of deliberation and deliberate choice, it is possible, and barely possible, to attain that ultimatum which I have ventured to propose as the infallible test of a blameless style; namely: its untranslatableness in words of the same language without injury to the meaning.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), ch. 22


Anonymous said...

What a load of blathering-drivel!

JforJames said...

Coleridge may be baroque in his rhetoric but I like STC's test for the best poetry: untranslatable in the selfsame language.