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Crashaw, Richard

SEAN H. McDOWELL


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Extract

While the critical fortunes of all the metaphysical poets have fluctuated, sometimes dramatically, between the original circulation of their work and the twenty-first century, none has experienced a more varied reception than Richard Crashaw (?1612–49). Since the publication of H. J. C. Grierson's landmark edition of Metaphysical poets (1921), which revived Crashaw for the English-speaking world, and of L. C. Martin's The poems, English, Latin, and Greek, of Richard Crashaw (1927), which made available his complete poetic canon, Crashaw has been celebrated for the wit, sensuality, and spiritual vision of his hymns and odes and derided for excessive emotionalism, indulgence in grotesquery, and even mental disturbance. While a few of his secular poems (e.g., ‘Music's duel’ and ‘Wishes. To his supposed mistress’) are widely anthologized in college textbooks, he is known today primarily for his religious verse, published in the seventeenth century in three collections, the Latin Epigram-matum sacrorum liber (1634), Steps to the temple (1646; rev. edn 1648), and the posthumous Carmen Deo nostro (1652). Even so, the many labels and clichés attached to his work in various college textbooks continue to obscure his artistry, even for those aware of the importance of his Catholicism. Religion always figured prominently in Crashaw's life. His father William (1572–1626) was a well-known ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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