Themes in St Mary Magdalene

Difficult to extract

The spirituality behind St Mary Magdalene is very different from that of Donne and Herbert. It is difficult to extract ‘themes' which suggest that a coherent argument is going on. However, very broadly, we could say the main theme is the agony and ecstasy of love, which places it within the mystical tradition of Catholic spirituality. This can be seen much more clearly in Hymn to St Teresa, which he wrote about the same time. The woman's repentance obviously suggests her own sense of Personal Sinfulness and Unworthiness, but Crashaw makes little of this. He does not wonder about her past life, only the intensity of her present and ongoing contrition.

Investigating St Mary Magdalene
  • Can you see any other themes in St Mary Magdalene?
  • Can you see how the poem could be a translation into images of Crashaw's own inner intensities?
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