Born: 23 October 1844
Died: 21 April 1930
Robert Seymour Bridges was an English poet, holder of the honour of poet laureate from 1913.
Bridges was born in Walmer, Kent, and educated at Eton College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He went on to study medicine in London at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and intended to practice until the age of forty and then retire to write poetry. Lung disease forced him to retire in 1882, and from that point on he devoted himself to writing and literary research.
Bridges' literary work started long before his retirement, his first collection of poems having been published in 1873. As a poet Bridges stands rather apart from the current of modern English verse, but his work has had great influence in a select circle, by its restraint, purity, precision, and delicacy yet strength of expression. It embodies a distinct theory of prosody.
His own efforts to "free" verse resulted in the poems he called "Neo-Miltonic Syllabics", which were collected in New Verse (1925). The meter of these poems was based on syllables rather than accents, and he used the principle again in the long philosophical poem The Testament of Beauty (1929), for which he received the Order of Merit. His best-known poems, however, are to be found in the two earlier volumes of Shorter Poems (1890, 1894). He also wrote verse plays, with limited success, and literary criticism, including a study of the work of John Keats.
Despite being made poet laureate in 1913, Bridges was never a very well-known poet and only achieved his great popularity shortly before his death with The Testament of Beauty. However, his verse evoked response in many great English composers of the time. Among those to set his poems to music were Hubert Parry, Gustav Holst, and later Gerald Finzi.
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Settings of his poetic works
Settings of text by Robert Bridges
- The chivalry of the sea (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Eternal Father, Op. 135, No. 2 (Charles Villiers Stanford)
- Happy are they, they that love God (William Croft)
- I praise the tender flower (Charles Villiers Stanford)
- Jesu, joy of man's desiring, BWV 147.10 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
- Love of the Father, love of God the Son (Orlando Gibbons)
- My delight and thy delight (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- O gladsome light (Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck)
- O gladsome light (Tim Pratt)
- O gladsome light, O grace (Louis Bourgeois)
- Rejoice, O land, in God thy might (William Knapp)
- Say, O say! saith the music (Charles Villiers Stanford)
- Since thou, O fondest (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Since thou, O fondest (Charles Villiers Stanford)
- The duteous day now closeth, BWV 244.10 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
- Thou didst delight my eyes (Gustav Holst)
- What voice of gladness (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Ye thrilled me once (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Eight Four-part Songs - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry) - (1898)
- 7. Ye Thrilled Me Once
- I Praise the Tender Flower - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Invocation to music - An Ode in Honour of Henry Purcell - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Intro. Myriad Voiced Queen!: Moderato/Turn, O Return!: Allegretto Tranquillo
- Thee, Fair Poetry Oft Hath Sought: Allegretto Tranquillo
- The Monstrous Sea: Maestoso Energico
- Love To Love Calleth: Andante Appassionato
- Dirge. To Me, To Me, Fair-Hearted Goddess, Come
- Man, Born Of Desire: Moderato/Rejoice, Ye Dead, Where'er Your Spirits Dwell
- O Enter With Me The Gates Of Delight: Allegro Vivace
- Chor: 'Thou, O Queen Of Sinless Grace': Allegro Vivo
- Seven Partsongs - (Gerald Finzi) - Opus 17
- 1. I praise the tender flower
- 2. I have loved flowers that fade
- 3. My spirit sang all day
- 4. Clear and gentle stream
- 5. Nightingales
- 6. Haste on, my joys!
- 7. Wherefore tonight so full of care
- Six Modern Lyrics - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry) - (1897)
- 2. Since Thou, O Fondest and Truest
- 5. What Voice of Gladness
- Six Part Songs - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry) - (1909)
- 6. My delight and thy delight