Metaphysical Poets: Richard Crashaw

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Metaphysical Poets:

Richard Crashaw

Seventeenth-century Britain gave birth to a group of poets who, because of the use of witty, unusual or far-fetched comparisons in their poems, came to be known as Metaphysical Poets. Although they were not part of a school or movement, this group was in the vanguard of seventeenth-century poetry. Some of the most famous Metaphysical Poets are John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert and Richard Crashaw, whose life, style and works will be explored along the present paper.


Metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw was born in England in c. 1612 and died in 1649 in Italy. Although he had a relatively short life, there are many aspects of it which are worth mentioning. Crashaw was raised by a devout Puritan preacher in times when Catholicism was highly criticized and rejected. He graduated from Cambridge and became fellow at Peterhouse.

The fact that his father was a fervent defendant of Protestantism did not influence him nor his faith, on the contrary, since he became a Roman Catholic.

For this reason, he was forced to resign his fellowship at Peterhouse College. England was severely hard on Catholics, especially after the Civil War, so Crashaw had to flee to France, where Catholicism was gladly welcomed.

Apparently, life was not easy on Crashaw when he first arrived in France. Fortunately for him, he had the opportunity to meet Henrietta Maria, widow of the late Charles I and an exile as well, by means of his friend Abraham Cowley. It was in France that Crashaw definitely converted to Catholicism since the country was a sound defendant of this faith. Here, he received help from Henrietta Maria who sent him to Rome and recommended him to the Pope. Although the position he obtained on his arrival in

Italy might...