Metaphysical poets, selected poems Contents
- Donne, John
- John Donne's early life
- John Donne - from Catholic to Protestant
- John Donne's marriage and its aftermath
- John Donne - The Reverend Dean
- Herbert, George
- Crashaw, Richard
- Vaughan, Henry
- Marvell, Andrew
- King, Henry
- Lovelace, Richard
- Cowley, Abraham
- Philips, Katherine
- Cleveland, John
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context: ideas and innovations
- Aire and Angels
- A Hymn to God the Father
- A Hymn to God, my God, in my Sicknesse
- A Nocturnall upon St. Lucies day
- At the Round Earth's Imagin'd Corners
- A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Synopsis of Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Commentary on Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Language and tone in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Structure and versification in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Imagery and symbolism in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Themes in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- A Valediction: of Weeping
- Batter my heart
- Death be not Proud
- Elegie XIX: Going to Bed
- Elegie XVI: On his Mistris
- Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
- Lovers' Infiniteness
- Oh my blacke Soule!
- Satyre III: 'On Religion'
- Show me Deare Christ
- Since She Whom I Lov'd
- Song: Goe, and catche a falling starre
- The Anniversarie
- The Dreame
- The Extasie
- The Flea
- The Good-morrow
- The Sunne Rising
- This is my playes last scene
- Twicknam Garden
- What if this present
- Affliction I
- Easter Wings
- Jordan I
- Jordan II
- Love II
- Prayer I
- The Church-floore
- The Collar
- Hymn in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
- Hymn to St Teresa
- St Mary Magdalene, or the Weeper
- To the Countesse of Denbigh
- Ascension - Hymn
- The Night
- The Retreate
- The Water-fall
- A Dialogue between Soul and Body
- On a Drop of Dew
- The Coronet
- The Definition of Love
- The Garden
- The Mower Against Gardens
- The Mower to the Glo-Worms
- The Mower's Song
- The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Faun
- The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers
- To his Coy Mistress
- Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax
Synopsis of Hymn to St Teresa
The full title of the poem is A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa. The poem appeared in the posthumous volume Carmen Deo Nostro (Hymn to our God), but from the following poem in that volume, An Apology for the Foregoing Hymn, it appears to have been written in England before he went into exile, since its subtitle is As Having Been Writ When the Author was yet Among the Protestants. A second poem to St Teresa follows that, called The Flaming Heart.
Taking the three poems together, we can see just how fascinated Crashaw was by the figure of St Teresa. She was a sixteenth century Spanish mystic, who became a nun and then founded her own order of ‘Discalced (barefoot) Carmelites', a mixed order of men and women. One of its most famous members was another Spanish mystic, St John of the Cross.
In An Apology, Crashaw has to apologise for Teresa's being Spanish, since that nation was still regarded with great suspicion by the English in the mid-seventeenth century because of fears that it would try to regain the English throne it for Catholicism. To be seen reading a Spanish author at that time would have seemed quite subversive. Crashaw's defence is that once you are a follower of Christ, nationality ceases to mean that much.
Two incidents in St Teresa's life
Crashaw focuses on two incidents in St Teresa's life. When she was a child, she ran away from home with her brother because she wanted to convert the Moors (North African Muslims who had previously conquered Spain, though by Teresa's time, they had been driven out). If she was captured and put to death, she regarded that as all part of the ‘bargain'. Fortunately, her uncle intervened.
Secondly, when she was a nun, she received a series of out-of-body experiences when she saw herself being shot by a flaming arrow in the heart by an angel. She felt agonising pain, but believed the wounds were from God and that they infused in her a passionate religious love that energised her for her later work.
Martyrdom and love
For Crashaw these two extraordinary events are linked by the idea of martyrdom. As a child, Teresa was willing to become a martyr; her second experience was a sort of ‘living death', which she willingly underwent because of her faith. Because the second experience produced the overwhelming sense of love, Crashaw links martyrdom and love together. It must be remembered that the seventeenth century produced its own long list of martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant. Crashaw, himself, whilst not a martyr, did die in exile as a result of his faith, and presumably at the time of writing the poem, was counting such a cost.
- What is your idea of a martyr? Are there martyrs today?
- Or are they for you just ancient historical figures?
- What might Crashaw, an unmarried scholar, brought up in a Puritan household, have found so riveting in the life of St Teresa?
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