DELIGHT IN DISORDER INTRODUCTION: Robert Herrick (1591-1674) is classified as a ‘Cavalier Poet,’ that is, he belonged to a group of poets who supported King Charles I during the Civil War. During the Civil War on account of his support to the Royalist cause he fell out of favor with the government, but after King Charles II was restored to the throne the King honored him and made him the Vicar at Dean Prior at Devonshire. During his student days at Cambridge and as a budding poet he was a great admirer of the Jacobean dramatist and lyricist Ben Jonson (1572-1637) and was a member of the group of admirers of Ben Jonson called the Sons of Ben.
At the same time he was a contemporary of the Metaphysical Poets like George Herbert (1593–1633). The Poem The poem is about a few unconscious mistakes one makes while dressing. Instead of criticizing the errors the poet looks amused and even enjoys them. But at a deeper level Herrick seems to be making an important statement in this poem about his views on Art and Religion. In both, he rejects strict, strong discipline and recommends freedom. While dressing a disorder or mistake happen. It is not noticed by the person concerned.
Herrick first praises wantonness, or playfulness, which he discovers in clothes arrayed in “sweet disorder. ” He proceeds to describe that disorder, beginning with a scarf thrown about the shoulders. Herrick then takes note of the lace embroidery that decorates the lady’s stomacher, a garment worn beneath the bodice. It is not the quality or the design of the lace that he notes, but simply the fact that it is not quite perfect in its placement; it is indeed an “erring lace. ” The next element of the lady’s dress that catches Herrick’s eye is a cuff decorated with ribbons.
He tells nothing of the design of the blouse or the color of the ribbons. All that catches his eye is the suggestion of neglect in the cuff, and that the ribbons are not fixed carefully in place, but rather “flow confusedly. ” He then proceeds to the petticoat, noting that its smooth spread is broken by a wave. In Herrick’s susceptible perception, this is no calm wave quietly moving its way to shore, but a absolute whitecap in a storm. Finally, Herrick ends his list by arriving at the shoestring. Even in this small item of dress his responsive heart finds a “wild civility. The end of all this is simple: Herrick finds such disorder far more delightful than when “art/ Is too precise in every part. ” So one need not be so very careful in dressing. The occasional careless mistakes or oversights in dressing delight the poet as a kind of new style and he is delighted in the disorder. Disorder, when occasionally happened, delights a person. Though the poem appears casual and superficial we also note as seriousness of the poet’s rejection of stern discipline in preference to freedom.
CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM: The lyric “Delight in Disorder” is from his collection of lyrics “Hesperides” published in 1648. The idea of the poem is that the poet narrator finds a woman who has dressed carelessly more attractive and seductive than a woman who has dressed very correctly. The following adjectives foreground the lack of attention by the woman to the various articles of her dress: “disorder,” “distraction,” “erring,” “neglectful,” “confusedly,” “tempestuous” and “careless. She has worn every article of her dress carelessly, however it is this complete lack of attention to her dress which makes her look sexy [“wantonness”] and “bewitches” him all the more. “Delight in Disorder. ” Cavalier poetry is secular and its language and imagery are simple and direct unlike Metaphysical poetry which is characterized by complicated imagery which renders the poem unclear. The ambiguity in this poem is, whether Herrick is describing a woman who has dressed carelessly or a painting of a woman who has dressed carelessly – “than when art/Is too precise in every part. A lyric is an expression of the poet’s own feelings as a response to an external stimulus and Ben Jonson’s lyrical influence can best be seen in the last three lines of the poem: “I see a wild civility;– Do more bewitch me, than when art Is too precise in every part. ” Themes and Meanings Robert Herrick is primarily a poet of celebration. “Delight in Disorder” is a poem celebrating cleanly wantonness. Its theme cannot be more accurately and concisely stated than this. The Poem “Ode to Evening,” a single stanza of fifty-two lines, is addressed to a goddess figure representing the time of day in the title.
This “nymph,” or “maid,” who personifies dusk, is “chaste,” “reserv’d,” and meek, in contrast to the “bright-hair’d sun,” a male figure who withdraws into his tent, making way for night. Thus “Eve,” or evening, is presented as the transition between light and darkness. William Collins further stresses a female identity in his appellation “calm vot’ress. ” With this feminine form of “votary” he designates a nun, or one who vows to follow the religious life. This combination of modesty, devotion, and “pensive Pleasures” alludes to the dominating figure of John Milton’s “Il Penseroso. The poem has three parts: the opening salutation, locating Eve in sequence and in the countryside; the center, a plea for guidance in achieving a calm stoicism, with a qualification, showing the reason for the request, and a shift to a personal view-point; and a grand finale with a roll call of the seasons and a return to a universal dimension. Throughout most of the poem, Collins acknowledges Eve’s authority and twilight’s pleasures, combining pastoral imagery with classical allusions.
These give the poem a Miltonic overtone, familiar to readers of Collins’s day, and a close connection to his contemporaries, such as James Thomson and Joseph Warton. After the opening apostrophe to Eve, nature takes over the first section (lines 3-14), with images of water in references to “solemn springs” plus the sun’s “cloudy skirts” and “wavy bed. ” The wind plays a small part in setting the scene with only the one reference to “dying gales” subsiding to the point where “air is hush’d. An allusion to John Milton’s “Lycidas” appears in the auditory image which invades the stillness in these lines: “Now air is hush’d, save where the weak-ey’d bat,/ With short, shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing” (lines 9-10). Other noises, less ominous, come from the beetle and the bee, a “pilgrim born in heedless hum. ” The second part of the poem starts with a request to the “maid compos’d,” who is worthy of emulation. “Now teach me,” Collins says, to write lines in keeping with the atmosphere Eve creates. The term “numbers” here stands not only for versification and metrics but also for poetry in general.
This section splits into the prayer itself, the details of evening’s “genial, lov’d return,” and an ominous dimension that makes the depiction more realistic than the classical allusions do. The signal for return is the appearance of Hesperus, the evening star. At this point, place deities, termed “Hours,” “elves,” and nymphs, become servants preparing evening’s chariot for her entrance. The poet takes center stage here, injecting a view of nature with “chill blustering winds” and “driving rain” that make him reluctant to follow Eve.
A scene reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s King Lear being exposed to violent weather on the heath is softened with the sound of a church bell. Finally, the poem presents the cyclical pageant of nature. Starting with a series of images befitting “meekest Eve” and sharply summarizing each season, the ending brings together the benefits possibly resulting from devotion to the goddess. Forms and Devices Written in imitation of the Roman poet Horace, this poem is considered a Horatian rather than a pastoral ode, although it contains rural imagery and some conventions associated with pastoral poetry.
The verse is unrhymed, with a metrical pattern developing as follows: alternating sets of two iambic pentameter lines and two shorter lines of iambic trimeter. The sequence of longer and shorter couplets is more important for purposes of unity here than it would have been had the lines been rhyming couplets. Collins’s use of couplets follows the neoclassical tradition, but his introduction of the short trimeter lines is viewed, in that context, as an aberration.
His balancing of long and short couplets helps to structure a poem considered too short for the verse paragraphs of blank verse and too long for one stanza. If each four-line set is viewed as a unit, the poem could be divided into thirteen stanzas. Ultimately, the metrical balance reflects the alternation of day and night, although only a transitional part of this cycle is the focus of the content and the imagery. Collins uses conventional neoclassical poetic diction without resorting to extreme or ridiculous phraseology.
One possible exception is the “pilgrim born in heedless hum,” a metaphor for a bee. Primarily, however, Collins’s metaphors stand on their own merits, sometimes coming close to cliches but not overcome by them. Language depicting pastoral images, such as “oaten stop,” “yon western tent” of the sun, the “folding star” of Hesperus, and the mountain and valley landscapes, establish the general tone of the poem and reflect Collins’s neoclassicism. The Miltonic overlay created by these images, by the imitations of Miltonic style, and by lines alluding to others by Milton cannot be ignored.
Nature imagery serves to depict how darkness begins to take over the atmosphere without fanfare and develops a personality for Eve. The combination of these details and the adjectives used to describe Eve, such as modest, chaste, and meek, creates a comfortable feeling. The comforts of tone and quiet devotion are driven off, however, by personal references to the poet, who, in spite of “willing feet,” is hiding inside the “hut,/ That, from the mountain’s side,/ Views wilds, and swelling floods” (lines 34-36) because of the cold and rainy winds on a suggestively Shakespearean heath.
The image of spring would be overpowered by this picture, despite the sound of the church bell, were it not for the compelling pictures created for the other seasons in the ending. Themes and Meanings Ostensibly, “Ode to Evening” is a nature poem, one of those often considered a prelude to the Romantic movement or a deliberate and intentional antidote to the heroic genres most prominent in the earlier part of the Augustan age. The poem looks forward to the Age of Sensibility, a label which poems such as Thomson’s The Seasons (1730) and Warton’s The Enthusiast: Or, The Love of Nature (1744) helped to create.
Collins’s ode promotes scenic nature, as do these poems, in contrast to the neoclassical emphasis upon human nature. Similarly, it even hints at the sublime in the section describing the mountain storm and the view from the hut as well as in the images of winter at the end. Nevertheless, just as evening is neither day nor night, this poem is neither fully pre-Romantic nor conventionally neoclassical. It is transitional, subtle, and generally quiet, like its subject.
Even though Collins follows convention in imagery, diction, and verse form, he demonstrates that he is not a slave to it. The ode exerts the “gentlest” of influences, as its subject does. Even the superlatives Collins uses are not exaggerations, but the superlative forms of adjectives such as “gentle” and “meek. ” The striking passages are, first, those depicting the prospect of a violent mountain storm as well as attack by winter on Eve’s entourage and her flowing garments; and second, the images which are more sharply focused in the pageant of seasons which ends the poem.
These seem to establish the grounds for the earlier prayer in hopes of adopting evening’s calm demeanor and reserved behavior. Especially poignant are the lines describing how the wind and rain of the storm keep the poet’s “willing feet” from obeying their desire to follow Eve. These lines seem highly personal in light of Samuel Johnson’s famous phrase describing the poet, “poor dear Collins. ” Contemporaries’ accounts of Collins’s life, including those by his friends, record mental breakdowns which are entirely relevant if one notes the poet’s own signals in this and other poems.
The allusion to Lear on the heath is not the poet’s personal equation of himself with Shakespeare’s egotistical king; other characters who join the scene in the hut would be more suitable for comparison with Collins’s presentation of himself. This passage is a faint echo of feelings expressed in the “Ode to Fear” from the same volume (1746). Although “Ode to Fear” is generated by Aristotle’s discussion of pity and fear in his concept of catharsis, the personal element is a noticeable dimension and reinforces a biographical interpretation for both poems. The final section ventures into a more vivid style of natural depiction.
The fragrances of spring, the length of summer days, the effect engendered by autumn colors and temperatures are just as compelling as the violence of winter and are not overpowered by it. The apparent timidity of the earliest passages and the passion tapped in the heath scene have a purpose within the poem itself: a careful buildup to a final celebration. Collins’s skillful manipulation of imagery and versification, along with the consequent modulations in tone and atmosphere, have created a poem representative of both the era and the inventive genius of the individual poet.