Monday, March 12, 2012

Ruth C. Wallerstain, Richard Crashaw; A Study in Style and Poetic Development

Ruth C. Wallerstein, Richard Crashaw; A Study in Style and Poetic Development, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1962.

William Crashaw, an Episcopal clergyman of some note as an anti-Catholic controversialist. (18)

1626… William Crashaw died. The poet had already been deprived in early childhood, first of his mother, the date of whose death we do not know, and then of a loving stepmother, whom William had married in 1619, and who died in childbirth only seventeen months later. In 1629, some three years after his father’s death, Richard Crashaw entered the Charterhouse, from which he passed to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in July. The influence of his father must have been the strongest one in his childhood and early youth. William Crashaw would seem to have been an energetic and passionate man of a somewhat clamorous type. His controversial work betokens zeal for his cause rather than a critical or philosophical temper, … (18)

In memory of the Vertuous and Learned Lady Madre de Teresa was written before the end of 1625, though, as Mr. Austin Warren has shown, Crashaw probably first came to known her in 1638, and that her influence on him was for the remainder of his life an active and immediate one, as is shown not only by the additions to his St. Teresa poems, but by the constant presence in his poetry of the concept of the anguish in the work of St. Teresa that in view of his feeling toward her work it must have come to him from her. (34)

He was especially influenced by Marinism; so to some extent were William Drummond of Hawthornden, Stanley, Sherbourne, and Ayres, while remaining perfectly English. (35)

Before pointing out the notable characteristics of this verse, we may remind ourselves briefly of the special elements in church music which might have influenced it. Three points deserve mention. First, the handling of time was more varied and more free than in later music. That music was unbarred, and changed time with great freedom, and this freedom was extended by the fact that the relation of whole note (breve), half note (semi-breve) and quarter note (minim) to each other was unfixed… Then, a second point, there was more variety in the phrase length. For instance, in Orlando Gibbon’s Anthem, Glorious and Powerful God, there is a passage in which the chorus develops in a double phrase of sixteen bars (when barred in modern notation), divided five plus five and three plus three, as against the eight bar phrases in the declamatory passage. Thirdly, the music was polyphonic. … alliterations which cross form line to line and in doing suggest entirely new line patterns playing across the basic line patterns. This is one of the elements which contribute most strongly to produce a polyphonic effect, especially as it combines with certain variations. (46-7)


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