Crashaw, Richard

Crashaw, Richard krăshˈô [key], 1612?–1649, one of the English metaphysical poets. He was graduated from Cambridge in 1634 and remained there as a fellow at Peterhouse until the Puritan uprising, when he fled to the Continent (1643). Though he was the son of an ardent Puritan clergyman, by 1646 he had converted to Roman Catholicism. He served for several years as an attendant to Cardinal Palotto, who finally procured him a minor post at the shrine of Loreto, Italy, in Apr., 1649. Four months later Crashaw died of a fever. Although he wrote secular poetry in Latin and Greek as well as English, his fame rests on his intense religious poetry. His strange mixture of sensuality and mysticism is unusual in English literature and has been compared to the baroque art of Italy and Spain. The principal volume of his work is Steps to the Temple (1646), enlarged to include Delights of the Muses (1648).

See his complete poems ed. by G. W. Williams (1972) and his English poems ed. by R. Rambuss (2013).

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