A quest for unification with the divine: Crashaw’s Teresa Poems “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart”

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Abstract

As a metaphysical poet, Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) is recognized for his stylistic experimentation and deep religious faith. In the course of his short life, he became a fellow at Cambridge, was later introduced to Queen Henrietta Marie, Charles I’s wife, in France after his exile during the Interregnum, converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism and was highly influenced by Baroque poetry and the martyrdom of St. Teresa of Avila in his style and themes. He is a poet with a “most holy, humble and genuine soul” and in the last six years of his life, which coincided with a period of great crisis in both personal and professional spheres, he worked intensively on the religious phase of his literary career (Shepherd 1914, p. 1). He reflected his devotion to St. Teresa and to God in his religious poems. Within this context, this study analyses Crashaw’s two Teresian poems, “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart” featuring the themes of the quest for divine love and unification with the divine along with Crashaw’s divergence from other metaphysical poets, his affection for the European style(s), and his religious views concerning both his country and other countries in Europe.

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