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Title: "Love is eloquence" : Richard Crashaw and the development of a discourse of divine love
Author: Warwick, Claire Louise Harrison
ISNI:       0000 0001 3563 7093
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1994
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My thesis takes as its subject the poetry of Richard Crashaw. Crashaw aims to represent a mutual relationship of love between God and humanity, which is modelled on the discourses of earthly, erotic love. However, such a relationship, and its expression is highly problematic. Love, and this kind of mutuality are best expressed through suffering. This paradox is central to my thesis. The dissertation falls into three parts which discuss the early , middle and late periods of his life and writing. Section One: Epigrammata Sacra. In these epigrams, Crashaw attempted to forge a language in which to express his love of God. He adapted the conventions of Latin erotic poetry to represent sacred love. The first two chapters discuss Ovid and Prudentius who were important influences on Crashaw since they both adapted the language of Classical Latin poetry for their own purposes. Ovid used the language of Augustan public rituals to write erotic poetry. Prudentius also strove to adapt the language of Roman poetry to the Christian purpose of celebrating the sufferings of the manyrs. Since Crashaw also explores the way in which wounding can aid communication between humanity and God, Prudentius was also an imponant model for this aspect of his poetry. Section Two: Steps to the Temple (1646). The first chapter concerns Counter Reformation meditational writers. Louis Manz contends that such writers were highly influential on English Renaissance poetry. This chapter investigates their views of divine love and how humanity may achieve it. In Steps to the Temple , Crashaw celebrates those who, like St. Teresa, have achieved communion with God, but seems himself to require an intermediate agency through which to communicate his love for the divine. The poems discussed in this section were probably written in the 1630s and 1640s, while Crashaw was resident in Cambridge. The final chapter discusses the political and religious debates of the 1640s and argues that what some critics perceive as Crashaw's 'foreign' sensibility may be a reflection of the views of the 'Beauty of Holiness' movement. Section Three: Steps to the Temple (1648) and Carmen Deo Nostro. Crashaw fled to Europe in 1643 and convened to Catholicism. The two later editions of his poetry, published after his exile from England, contain several new poems and revisions of earlier ones. Poems in hymn form , appear for the first time in the 1648 edition of Steps to the Temple. These are full of images of pain and wounding. The opening chapter compares Crashaw's discussions of religious suffering with those of contemporary poets. The work of his close friend and coUeague at Peterhouse, Joseph Beaumont, is particularly va1uable, since his language and style are very similar to Crashaw's. Beaumont's poetry also offers an insight into the life of Laudians who remained in England during the Interregnum. Hymns of the Church were associated with Catholic ritual. The second chapter considers whether there is any evidence that these poems were written after Crashaw's conversion, and whether they exhibit any change of sensibility as a result . An account of Crashaw's years of exile contends that he may have encountered Catholic thought while still in England. Critics have assumed that once he convened, and particularly once he anived in Rome, he was finally content and at peace with God. I argue, however, there is no evidence for this view, and that Crashaw remained an excluded exile whose sense of isolation found expression in his poetry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral