Thanks for an interesting inquiry. As a lifelong library rat, I look
forward to book-related questions coming up here at Google Answers.
This one proved to be especially interesting.
I'm going to answer your questions in random order:
1) The Black Christ
Probably the best-known poem written by Cripps, the text may be found
at this link:
It is excerpted from "The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse", and
you will find other examples of his work on the same site.
2) Cripps bio
Biographical information on A.S. Cripps is discouragingly scant on the
internet. From the odd word here and there on the many sites I
visited in researching this question, I've gleaned a few points:
Cripps was born in 1869, and lived until 1952. He went to Africa right
around the turn of the century, and was active in Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe) right up to the time of his death. Cripps championed the
rights of indigenous Africans, which could not have been a popular
stand in his time, and may have contributed to the scarcity of
biographical information available. He is one of few English
missionaries remembered fondly by the Zimbabweans, and he seems to
have had a genuine appreciation of their culture. While other
missionaries, for example, tried to stamp out native spiritualism,
Cripps wrote a book lauding Chaminuka, a famous "witch doctor" killed
by rivals in the late 19th century.
A Zimbabwean document explaining the naming of schools describes him
as a "liberal Anglican Priest, who championed African interests,
especially land, between 1901 and 1952."
A great-great nephew of Cripps, Welsh poet Owen Sheers, is writing a
novel based on his famous relative's life. A news article on the
subject may be found here:
Sheers has had access to large quantities of personal papers belonging
to his distinguished relative. You may be able to obtain further
biographical information directly from him. Follow this link to his
site, and click "contact us":
Bear in mind of course, that he has an active writing career and may
not be able to respond immediately. Still, if anyone online can give
you details of Cripps' life, Sheers would be your man!
As far as offline biography goes, I've located two books which might
be in your local public or university library:
"God's Irregular: Arthur Shearly Cripps: a Rhodesian epic" by Douglas
V. Steere (London, SPCK, 1973)
"Arthur Shearly Cripps", by John Robert Doyle (Twayne, 1975)
Another resource you may try is your local Anglican Diocese. Many
Diocesan centres operate a library which would of course include books
on noteworthy missionaries of the past.
3) The Noah's ark story
I've been unable to find any reference to this on the Web. This is
not to say he didn't write one, just that it's not cited online. If
you need to chase it down, and are unable to obtain the information
from Owen Sheers (see above), this link gives an exhaustive list of
writings published by Cripps during his lifetime:
If it exists, you should be able to track it down using that list.
I've also turned up an impressive-looking list of literary works
dealing in whole or in part with Cripps' writings. These books and
journals may be found on this page, at the University of the Free
State (South Africa):
My search strategy was to combine the phrase
+"Arthur Searly Cripps"
and then to shorten the name to +"Arthur Cripps" or +"A.S. Cripps" in
a largely fruitless effort to increase the number of hits I received.
I trust that this is satisfactory. Cripps seems to have been an
interesting individual, and ahead of his time in evaluating the
effects of colonialism on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I'm going to be looking
for these biographies myself, now that you've piqued my interest.
Thanks again for an interesting question.