Monday, May 6, 2013

Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges (1844—1930) wanted to be a poet when he was young, but instead became a doctor. At age 37 he retired, due to illness, and dedicated himself to writing. He was a formalist in style, with great skill in his use of meter. Despite not being well known, he became Britain’s poet laureate in 1913.

In 1899 he published the Yattendon Hymnal, for the purpose of preserving early hymn tunes; this led him to translate many of the hymns himself from Latin, Greek and German.

Perhaps his greatest contribution to poetry, was presenting the work of his friend Gerard Manley Hopkins. He arranged for a posthumous collection of Hopkins’ work in 1918. Ironically, as Hopkins’ biographer Paul Mariani makes plain, Bridges didn’t really understand his friend’s poetics, and stumbled on his Catholicism.

Robert Bridges’ own masterpiece is Testament of Beauty (1929). Just prior to his death, it led to great popularity for a poet who had spent much of his life in quiet seclusion.

I Love all Beauteous Things

I love all beauteous things,
---I seek and adore them;
God hath no better praise,
And man in his hasty days
---Is honoured for them.

I too will something make
---And joy in the making;
Altho’ to-morrow it seem
Like the empty words of a dream
---Remembered on waking.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca