A Very Short Biography of Elizabeth Daryush
A short introduction to her life and work
Who was Elizabeth Daryush? Although she was championed and praised by poets and critics including Roy Fuller and Donald Davie, her poetry is not widely read or studied now. Yet the biography of Elizabeth Daryush reveals some intriguing family connections and a curious poet, whose work is worth (re)discovering. In this post, then, we offer a very short overview of Daryush’s life and work.
Elizabeth Daryush was born Elizabeth Bridges in 1887 in Berkshire, England and would spend much of her childhood in that county. Her father was Robert Bridges, who in 1913 would become UK Poet Laureate; Bridges was also a friend of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the one who introduced to public to Hopkins’s work after his friend’s death. Daryush appears to have inherited her father’s scrupulous attention to prosody, and this has been named – by Michael Schmidt in his The Lives Of The Poets, for instance – as her distinctive feature as a poet. Many of her experiments with accentual and syllabic verse would be inspired by Hopkins’s ‘sprung rhythm’. Daryush’s mother was the daughter of the Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse.
Daryush married in 1923 and thus acquired the surname (which is Persian in origin) by which she would become known as a poet. The couple moved to Persia in the year of their marriage. She acquired a reasonably detailed knowledge of Persian poetry and translated Rumi. However, four years later, they returned to England, and Daryush would spend the next fifty years – the rest of her life – living just outside Oxford, where her father spent his later years.
It was at this point that she wrote much of her poetry, taking her cue from the Edwardian poets of the early twentieth century and seventeenth-century poets such as Robert Herrick. In terms of form and rhyme scheme her poetry tends to be precise and ordered, but her rhythm is altogether less predictable, inspired by her father’s experiments with syllabic and accentual verse as it is. Daryush died in 1977.
If you’ve found this very short biography of Elizabeth Daryush useful, you can discover more about her life and work here. If you want a good place to start discovering Daryush’s poetry, we recommend ‘Still-Life’.
Image: Elizabeth Daryush Memorial Garden (picture credit: Des Blenkinsopp), via geograph.org.uk.