Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Richard Crashaw is traditionally grouped with the “metaphysical poets” of seventeenth century Protestant England because of the “wit,” dramatic immediacy, intellectual energy, meditative concentration, and imaginative daring that he shares with such poets as John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Katherine Philips, and Andrew Marvell. His poetic achievement, however, is in several ways more compatible with the rich and sensuous baroque sensibilities fostered by continental Roman Catholicism than with the rigors of “Protestant poetics” nourished by the cultures of Puritanism and Anglicanism in England.
Crashaw was born in 1612 or 1613, in London, England. London at that time was beginning to seethe with political and religious controversies that would lead to the outbreak of civil war in 1642. Crashaw’s father was a passionately anti-Catholic Puritan minister. By the time Crashaw was fourteen, both his parents had died; he attended the Charterhouse, a fairly new English boarding school, and entered Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1631. In the growing conflict of the 1620’s and 1630’s between High Church Anglo-Catholicism and the scripturally based autonomous church movements associated with Puritanism, Pembroke was a bastion of High Church beliefs and practices. Crashaw completed his B.A. in 1636 and became a fellow at Peterhouse, another High Church college, where he received his M.A. in 1638, and spent several years teaching and...
(The entire section is 970 words.)
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