Almost everything would seem to have been said that can be said about sprung rhythm—not that authorities agree. On the contrary, there is every sort of disparity in the accounts of its nature and origin. That Gerard Manley Hopkins invented its name is certain and that he himself first used it in The Wreck of the Deutschland, but agreement ends there. His rhythm has been traced to, and sometimes identified with, the old strong-stress Anglo-Saxon alliterative measure or, alternatively, to the choruses in Samson Agonistes. It has been called rigidly isochronous; it has also been described as free verse, next door to prose, and quite lawless in spite of his insistence that it was written by strict laws. It has been said to be entirely new and entirely old. When pushed to defend it, Hopkins himself found numerous precedents: brief instances or hints in Shakespeare, Milton, and Campbell, in nursery rhymes and weather saws, in Anglo-Saxon verse and its “degraded and doggrel” survival in Piers Plowman (though he did not know the last two, except at second hand and in the briefest of extracts, till some years after he had developed his own system). These predecessors, however, he named merely as precedents; he never called them sources. The only specific statement he made concerning the actual origin of the measure reveals nothing: “I had long had haunting my ear the echo of a new rhythm which now I realised on paper.” He hastened to add, as he did also in discussing the meter with Robert Bridges, that he did not claim it as “altogether new”; he did profess to be the first who had avowedly “used it and made it the principle throughout” a poem, to the best of his knowledge.