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Richard Crashaw

(1612—1649) poet


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(1612/13–49),

poet, became a Catholic convert c.1645 and fled to Paris, where his friend Cowley persuaded Queen Henrietta Maria to interest herself on his behalf. Through her influence he moved to Italy, first as attendant on Cardinal Palotta, then in 1649 in a minor post at the Santa Casa of Loreto, where he died. His principal work was the Steps to the Temple (1646), a collection of religious poems influenced by Marino and the Spanish mystics, which has been acclaimed as the height of baroque in English poetry. To this was attached a secular section, the Delights of the Muses, containing ‘Music's Duel’, a paraphrase of the Latin of Strada, in which nightingale and lute‐player contend until the former fails and dies. His best‐known poems are those addressed to St Theresa, the ‘Hymne’ and ‘The Flaming Hart’. Both celebrate the bliss of martyrdom in characteristically baroque imagery of doves, darts, hearts, and ‘delicious wounds’. The extravagant conceits of ‘The Weeper’, addressed to Mary Magdalen, were much ridiculed in subsequent periods.

Subjects: Literature.


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