171. Delight in Disorder: Robert Herrick

I put forth the idea to my wife that poetry was on the wane.

She disagreed. Her argument was that, with an entire generation growing up on Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, followed by rap music and the rise of slam poetry, this generation was very open to poetry.

I put that statement in context: Literary, adult poetry. And I compared this time with, say, the fifties.

She disagreed. Her argument was that, in the 1950’s the poetry was popular among intellectuals, but was not “popular”.

I still think I’m right. Are there professional poets today, who aren’t also college professors? Were there then? I don’t know, but I’m a snob and so the image of Philip Larkin might weigh heavily on my thoughts (it’s the glasses).  I tried to do some research, but wound up with Robert Herrick!

It’s spring here in Vermont.  The clothes are being shed, but in such a will-nill way.  Shorts with coats and tank tops and socks with sandals.  Discord.  Disheveledness.  Skirts that are too short, and boys shivering in t-shirts.  Ah, spring.  And love.

A nice reading of the poem is here: Classic Poetry Aloud

There are many conversations to be had here.  The idea of attraction might be a bit too risque for your classroom, but a nice link to the books they are reading might do the trick nicely.  If you read such popular titles such as “The Summer I Turned Pretty” or “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” you will notice the conscious way the female protagonists dress.  Modern boy’s books do the same.  Have students read the passages, list or draw the outfits, discuss the intent… and then read this poem.

Or just have them look in the mirror.  And around the room.

Delight in Disorder
Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:–
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distractión,–
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher,–
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands 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.


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