Response to the Poems
Responses to the Poems
Delight in Disorder – Robert Herrick
Beautifying the poem with alliteration and rhyme, Robert Herrick seems to find pleasure in that which is not organized. He likes it so much that he refers to it as a sweet disorder, something that is naturally seen as paradoxical. He describes the various ways of the disarray such as laces that are everywhere, neglected cuffs, ribbons that are not in place, careless shoestrings and a petticoat that does not seem to stay in its place. I think that Herrick is encouraging people to do the simple things in life, noting that they sometimes produce the same results as when people place much effort and skill to perfect an art. He says that these simple and disorganized things do more to bewitch him than when the “art is too precise in every part”. Herrick compares the wearer of the dress to a piece of art. The poem was written when women were not given much status in terms of equality. Like, the piece of art, most women were considered items of property.
I think that Herrick regarded women in the same way since he seems to generalize and he does not speak of one specific woman. I do not think that he was interested in knowing who they were, but he saw them for what they looked like. What annoys me is that just like pieces of art, women were meant to appeal to the senses by their beauty, and by their dressing. Women’s role was to be seen and admired. What is more irritating is the fact that the speaker does not seem to take much interest in the intricate details of art, as this is seen as a way of him not being interested in the intricate details of women. This may or may not have been a representation of the society back then, although one cannot be objective on the issue. Sometimes people work too hard to achieve the perfection, which they believe will appeal to the society, just like the art done to precise perfection. This is however not always the case. As one is trying to achieve that perfection, he or she may end up missing the whole point of beauty, which is being natural in every aspect.
The Flea – John Donne
I personally would not respond well to someone trying to impress me by calling me a flea. Many people do not use fleas when they think of love or romance. Most consider them parasites, which are only there to take away and rob someone off something. Yet this was Donne’s idea of expressing his love and romance to his beloved. His using a flea to describe the love that he and his lover shared is ironical and a paradox of some sort. The speaker uses the flea to bring out the subject of sex to his lover. He says that denying him sex is a little thing, just like the flea. Some people do not think highly about sex. Some consider it a pastime and they fail to realize that their partners might not have the same opinion. This is a scheme on behalf of the speaker to present sex as a little thing. From the poem, the reader notes that sex will unite them, just as their blood is united in the body of the flea.
The speaker tells his beloved that she should not be ashamed of having sex with him or breaking her virginity, noting that it cannot be considered “a sin, shame or loss of maidenhead.” In the third stanza, the speaker changes his tone. While in the other stanzas he was pleading with his lover and using sweet language, his third stanza begins with rebuke when he tells her that she is “cruel and sudden” for killing the innocent and tainting her nails with the flea’s blood. Sometimes this happens today when one refuses another’s advances of intimacy. Marriage was seen as the only proper avenue where people could have sex, thus, the speaker’s reason for encouraging his beloved to consider the flea their marriage bed. Premarital sex was not common and it is no wonder then that their parents are against their union. The speaker does not however feel the need to uphold the tradition. He does not support his beloved’s idea of losing her virginity in an honorable way. His beloved on the other hand considers the loss of her virginity as a waste. My perception is that the poem is relevant in modern times, though people do not use the flea as a way of coercing their loved ones into being intimate with them. It shows the lengths at which a man will go to convince a woman to sleep with him. The tone changes when the man realizes that the woman is adamant. Marriage may no longer be the only prerequisite for having sex, since people have gained more freedom. Sex should be about personal decisions and no one should coerce another into engaging in the act.