Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition)
The poem reveals two miracles simultaneously: that of eternal life and that of the transformation of the profane into the sacred. For ordinary people to understand what God offers through the sacrifice of His son, they must work with what they know, which are things of this world. The poem shows how even the most minute of earthly details reveal God’s plan. It focuses more narrowly as it progresses, from the statue or painting to the wounds to the fluids emanating from the wounds. Such a complete immersion into earthly details emphasizes Crashaw’s view of the glory of creation and redemption. Similarly, the humor and bathos of the poem are balanced by the miracle of salvation.
If the poem offers a direct lesson, it is that of Crashaw’s belief that the devout believers in Christianity will without doubt receive their just rewards. The poem makes the reader think of the little miracles that happen daily in life and suggests that they are purposeful reflections in miniature of the great, ultimate miracle of life after death. The poet mimics God’s plan by working within a similar scope. The word “poet” means “maker,” and each poem is a replica of the world, a cosmos of the poet’s own fashioning.