The English Poems of Richard Crashaw, edited by Richard Rambuss, is the first critical edition of Crashaw in over forty years. We have a poem from the edition in Little Star Weekly this week, and the quotations on the book are so interesting we offer them here:
Our usual accounts of the early modern lyric are sorely put to the test when confronted by the extraordinary, untamed instance of Richard Crashaw. As Richard Rambuss argues in his elegant and meticulous introduction, Crashaw’s poetry powerfully confounds our usual categories—Protestant vs. Catholic, Renaissance vs. Baroque, erotic vs. devotional—while bequeathing us some of the most impassioned and indelible images in the language. This edition is a timely challenge to scholars and a genuine gift to readers everywhere who may not yet know the “startling weirdness” that is Crashaw.
— Linda Gregerson
This edition is a cause for celebration. Long marginalized, misunderstood, and neglected, Crashaw here resumes his place as one of the most inventive and exciting religious poets of the seventeenth century. In its intense fervor, its bodily and spiritual urgency, and its daring exploration of the resources of faith, Crashaw’s poetry, as Richard Rambuss’ elegant, richly informative introduction suggests, should rightly be understood not as eccentric but as “devotionally cosmopolitan.”
— Stephen Greenblatt
Crashaw is quite alone in his peculiar kind of greatness.
— T. S. Eliot
Richard Crashaw (ca. 1613–1649) was an English minister and poet who converted to Catholicism and moved to the Continent during the English Civil War. He published his first book of poems, in Latin, a year after the appearance of George Herbert’s The Temple. During his exile his poems were collected by an anonymous friend in one volume under the titles Steps to the Temple and The Delights of the Muses. He died of fever at the age of 36. A posthumous collection of his religious poems, Carmen Deo nostro, appeared in Paris in 1652, with thirteen engravings after Crashaw’s own designs. Richard Rambuss is the author of Closet Devotions and Spenser’s Secret Career.
(right) Engraving to illustrate Crashaw’s poem “The Weeper,” from Carmen deo nostro