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Home » » A sweet disorder in the dress; Kindles in clothes a wantonness! Explain

The lines have been quoted from “Delight in Disorder”, one of the beautiful lyrics composed by Robert Herrick. The quoted lines are the opening couplet of the poem. Here the poet introduces the theme of ‘sweet disorder’ in the poem. He says that a sweet disorder in the dress of his beloved has kindled a wantonness in her clothes revealing her personality. 

The idea that imperfections and inconsistencies can enhance the appeal of a person is introduced in the lines. The poet or the speaker of the poem finds delight in his beloved’s whimsical way of choosing clothes and dressing herself as it exhibits her wanton personality. The individualism of his beloved is evident in her style of dressing herself. In the opening couplet Herrick is essentially describing the relationship between a woman’s disorderly clothing — “A sweet disorder in her dress” — and how it causes his attraction for her — “Kindles in clothes a wanton° ness”. In the remaining of the poem the poet describes in details the disorderliness of her dress. Thus the opening lines prepare the readers for what is to come. 

Herrick’s language is very simple but effective. He has deliberately chosen words to bring his ideas home. The phrase, “sweet disorder” very directly shows the author’s appreciation of the woman’s wayward clothing. It is an oxymoron as the phrase is a combination of two seemingly opposing words. But the phrase is meaningful in the context of the poem as the poet has deep appreciation of anything that is disorderly about his beloved. Herrick makes abundant uses of assonances and consonances in the poem. In the opening line, the ‘s’ sound is repeated - “A sweet disorder in her dress”. The first two lines are also remarkable as they end in identical syllables. The opening couplet ends with exactly rhyming final syllables: -‘ess ’. 


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