Poet for Today: Richard Crashaw


Richard Crashaw was a 17th century poet, who with George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, and John Donne produced some of the most splendid devotional poetry of their era. (I leave Milton out, because while he produced some devotional poetry, it is hardly his best work nor the work for which he is best known). Crashaw died at the age of 36 in 1649, leaving behind a volume of poetry that must include one of the earliest tributes in English to St. Teresa of Avila. But for today, here's a less formidable (but no less lovely) work:


On the Water of our Lord's Baptism.
EACH blest drop on each blest limb,
Is wash't itself, in washing Him :
'Tis a gem while it stays here ;
While it falls hence 'tis a tear.

What I find most appealing in this very short piece is the notion that through the Baptism of Jesus, water itself was purified. What a wonderful image you could have of a stream flowing out into the world, washing all clean, removing from it the stains of sin, cleansing nature itself. For more of Crashaw's poetry, you might wish to start by visiting The Luminarium

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 29, 2002 7:55 AM.

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