Introduction to Literature
In the following piece, seventeenth-century cavalier poet RobertHerrick slightly breaks strict conventions of poetic techniquewithin most of the couplets (pairs of rhyming lines) in orderto illustrate, in subtle ways, his larger point. In other words,he intentionally screws up the rhyme or the meter, only barely,here and there. Try to identify where he introduces each variationand then determine the overall purpose of his practices in thecontext of this poem.
Delight in Disorder
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness.
A lawn1about the shoulders thrown 1linen scarf
Into a fine distractiòn:
An erring2lace, which here and there 2wandering
Enthralls the crimson stomacher3; 3lower bodice
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoestring, in whosetie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than whenart
Is too precise in every part.
Robert Herrick, “Delight in Disorder.” In The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. I. 5th ed. NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 1986: 1322.