To be honest with you, I usually loathe studying and analyzing poetry. Recently I remembered one of my very few fond memories of poetry, and decided to give it another try. At the end of my sophomore year, my fabulous English teacher challenged us present and analyze a poem for a poetry explication. Because we were able to choose a poem from an assinged collection, I fell in love with Delight in Disorder. Following the poem, I’ve shared some of my thoughts from the beautiful and poignant piece.

Delight in Disorder 

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility—
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

-Robert Herrick

In Delight in Disorder, Robert Herrick dramatizes the internal conflict of the speaker who ponders the true meaning and source of beauty. Acting as a “fly on the wall” in a young woman’s dressing room, the speaker expresses his reactions to her beauty. The speaker, most likely a man, finds more appeal in her effortless disarray than in the extreme precision of the societal conception of beauty. Through his use of flawed rhyme scheme and oxymorons, Herrick imparts a wisdom about the concept of beauty. Delight in Disorder proves that imperfections are more alluring and powerful than the illusion of perfection, as perfection itself does not exist. Emphasizing the importance of natural and genuine observations instead of conceited and insincere opinions, Herrick conveys that a woman’s effect on senses is what defines her, rather than her more concrete characteristics and flaws. Herrick’s piece upholds the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Despite the cliche, this gorgeous poem reveals that perfection is unachievable, and therefore; imperfections are the only truly beautiful things in life.

Herrick, a seventeenth century writer and poet, delivers an timeless message that many girls in today’s society (including myself) should heed. Constantly surrounded by stick thin models and condemantions of more plump individuals, most people today- especially young woman- feel a pressure to look and dress a certain way; to be perfect. As Herrick presents, “perfect” does not exist, but society never fails to conjure up a conception of perfect beauty. From clothing to body image, and everything in between, remember to be yourself and develop your own personal style, including those beautiful imperfections!

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genus, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring!” -Marilyn Monroe



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