“O Sweet Incendiary!”: A poetic hagiography and benediction

Brian Jeremy McNely, University of Texas at El Paso


This study of Seventeenth Century English poet Richard Crashaw is focused on the four poems that enlist the spiritual patronage of St. Teresa of Avila. The poems comprise a poetic hagiography, as Crashaw depicts the life of the saint in ever more personal and fervent terms. Through an analysis of these works and the body of Crashavian criticism, a portrait of the poet himself simultaneously emerges. As Crashaw writes anew the Life of St. Teresa in verse, he both works within the conventions of hagiography and extends well beyond them, while still holding firm to the traditions of English versification. His Teresa poems are representative of his creedal spirituality and an expression of his burgeoning theological beliefs, as he manifests poetically the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, a devotion to the Eucharist, and the application of St. Teresa's method of concentrated interior prayer.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature

Recommended Citation

McNely, Brian Jeremy, "“O Sweet Incendiary!”: A poetic hagiography and benediction" (2005). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1430229.