I am writing to ask for views on exactly what Shakespeare is saying here. The quote is from The Winter's Tale:
Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean,
But nature makes that mean; so, ev'n that art,
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art,
That nature makes
The reason I am asking is that Coleridge, who had a thing or two to say about Shakespeare, maintains that what Shakespeare is saying is that art comes before nature, that our perception of nature is somehow determined by how we perceive it artistically.
Is Shakespeare not, in fact, saying precisely the opposite? To me Shakespeare seems to be saying that nature has 'the final say', so to speak. That is, whatever art adds to nature - in painting, literature, etc - is itself
a product of nature. That is, remove the external world and there is no imagination. That's how I'm reading it.
Any comments would be appreciated.