Decorative Initial Sprung Rhythm" is Gerard Manley Hopkins' term for a complex and very technically involved system of metrics which he derived partly from his knowledge of Welsh poetry. It is opposed specifically to "running" or "common" rhythm, and provides for feet of lengths varying from one syllable to four, with either "rising" or "falling" rhythm.

From our late twentieth-century perspective, it may seem like Hopkins was re-inventing the wheel: almost none of what he argued for was actually new in English poetry; Tennyson, Morris, and Swinburne had all experimented with Old English meter very like the Welsh verse which Hopkins had learned; and no other poet has since used sprung rhythm regularly. But as with "inscape," sprung rhythm is the theoretical expression of a concern which had obssessed every nineteenth-century poet. Also characteristic of Hopkins was his need to back up his poetic practice by a theory which demonstrated the immanence of God in his poems.

Last modified 1988