Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

English poet. Born on October 23, 1844 in Kent. Educated at Eaton College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and then studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He continued to work for various hospitals as a physician until 1881. Because of lung disease he retired and started to devote himself to writing in 1882. After getting married in 1884, he spent a life in rural seclusion at Yattendon, Berkshire, and at Boars Hill, Oxford. He made an important contribution to hymnody, and published Yattendon Hymnal (1899). At Corpus Christi College he met Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), who became a close and influential friend of his. Hopkins owes his fame to Bridges’ posthumous publication of his verse in 1918. Bridges wrote the influential essay Milton’s Prosody in 1893 in which he examined the meter of Samson Agonistes (1671), and noticed that in the occasional twelve-syllable lines Milton avoided the sixth-syllable caesura that usually divides the Alexandrine into hemistichs. His efforts on prosody were embodied as ‘neo-Miltonics’ or ‘loose Alexandrines’. The ‘neo-Miltonics’ adopt as a norm a twelve-syllable line with six rather irregularly spaced stresses. Bridges says the beauty of the meter is in its perpetual freedom to obey the sense and diction. He employed ‘neo-Miltonics’ in The Testament of Beauty (1929), for which he received the Order of Merit. The Poet Laureate in 1913. Died on April 21, 1930. (H. N.)

1.Screaming Tarn