Richard Crashaw (1612/13-1649) has been one of the most neglected, misunderstood, misread, and unappreciated of the so-called major metaphysical poets. Critics have long labeled Crashaw’s poetry “foreign,” “grotesque,: “deficient in judgment and taste,” and even “sexually perverse.” In recent years, however, Crashaw’s role in providing an understanding and appreciation of seventeenth century poetic theory and aesthetics has become increasingly more evident to literary scholars and critics. They now generally agree that his poetry occupies a permanent and significant position in the intellectual, religious, and literary history of his time.
This collection of ten original critical and historical essays on the life and art of Crashaw will serve as a further impetus to the renewed interest in Crashaw. In the introduction, John R. Roberts and Lorraine M. Roberts survey past Crashavian criticism, giving the reader an overall view of the critical response to Crashaw and his work. The introduction also signals new directions for future scholarship. Scholars, critics, and students of metaphysical, baroque, and religious poetry will find these essays engaging and insightful.