Richard Crashaw: A Study in Style and Poetic Development

By Ruth C. Wallerstein | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
CRASHAW'S LIFE AND INNER GROWTH

Of Richard Crashaw's external life we know little, of his interior development there is almost no explicit record. Yet the objective facts of his history with their outline of stark drama suggest much as to the inner development if we can interpret them rightly. Our scant personal knowledge of him may at some points be extended by our knowledge of his age. What we know of the history of the time and its intellectual currents, what we know of the temper of the particular worlds in which Crashaw lived, does not, conscious as we are of the infinite varieties of the human mind, yield us any certainties as to Crashaw. Yet if we bring these sources of knowledge to bear upon the objective facts of his intellectual history, they are illuminating. The man who has been to the South Pole must have traversed the great ice fields, by whatever course he took. And the son of a noted anti-Catholic divine, who was an intimate of Little Gidding, who became fellow at Peterhouse under Cosin, and who died in Catholic orders at Loreto must have lived through a very intense religious experience. We may unite the knowledge we can gather of his life, too, with the personal revelations in his poems and with what we know of his reading. The matter of reading must indeed he handled with special precaution. Certain books, such as the principal Church fathers, we may be fairly sure that Crashaw read; at what period he read them, and at what period, or which ones, he studied intensively, we have no indication. Of certain other groups of literature, we know that they were being read by the men among whom, both spiritually and in the flesh, Crashaw lived; but which particular ones shall we say shared in that selective process by which Crashaw grew to a fruit so different from all the other men nourished in the soil of Peterhouse at that time? Even as to the books to which we are led by his poems we are in doubt; his Saint Teresa poems are clearly the immediate outcome of a

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Richard Crashaw: A Study in Style and Poetic Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Chapter I- Introductory 9
  • Chapter II- Crashaw''s Life and Inner Growth 16
  • Chapter III- School-Work- The Latin Epigram and the Pattern of the Rhetorics 56
  • Chapter IV- The Translations 73
  • Chapter V- Emblem and Impresa- The Maturing of Crashaw''s Imagery 114
  • Chapter VI- Style and Spirit Fused 136
  • Bibliography 148
  • Index 159
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