Monday, May 25, 2020

Richard Crashaw*

Richard Crashaw (c.1613—1649) dedicated himself to become a writer of Christian poetry in 1633 after having read George Herbert’s book The Temple, which had recently appeared. Crashaw’s first poetry collection Epigrammatum Sacrorum Liber, published just one year later, was written in Latin. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Cambridge, where he became friends with the poet, Abraham Cowley.

Curiously, Crashaw was raised in a distinctly anti-Catholic family, but became a Catholic himself, well after his father’s death. In Rome, through an introduction by the queen, he became friends with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Maria Pallotta, and served as his secretary from 1646 to 1649; dismayed with those close to the cardinal, he denounced their behaviour, which led to the cardinal sending Crashaw elsewhere. There is suspicion that when Crashaw died, a couple weeks later, that he had been poisoned by those who had become his enemies.

His book Steps to the Temple. Sacred Poems, With Other Delights of the Muses was published in 1646; an extended edition appeared in 1648.

But Men Loved Darkness Rather Than Light

The world's light shines, shine as it will,
The world will love its darkness still.
I doubt though when the world's in hell,
It will not love its darkness half so well.

The Recommendation

These houres, and that which hovers o’re my End,
Into thy hands, and hart, lord, I commend.

Take Both to Thine Account, that I and mine
In that Hour, and in these, may be all thine.

That as I dedicate my devoutest Breath
To make a kind of Life for my lord’s Death,

So from his living, and life-giving Death,
My dying Life may draw a new, and never fleeting Breath.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Richard Crashaw: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.