What is the critical analysis of the poem "Delight in Disorder"?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Herrick uses metonymy; he is referring to the clothes AND the woman who wears them.  The "disorder" of the dress "kindles wantonness" in the woman who wears the dress.  He sees a "wild civility" in a careless shoestring.  He describes the dress but is actually referring to the woman.  Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a concept is referred to by describing or just naming something that it is associated with.  In this case, the woman is described via the clothes.  You could also call this metaphor or perhaps even analogy.  This poem bears some resemblance to the phrase "let your hair down," in other words relax, be free.  Herrick implies that a woman who is not perfectly dressed to every detail may be more free, less inhibited and even more genuine - as if to say that a woman so incessant in attending to every detail of her dress is compensating for lack of personality, elitism, or some other trait she is insecure with.  You could draw other inferences here: a disordered dress implies that she is more interested in more meaningful things or simply that she is not afraid to look disheveled, not afraid to be "wild" despite what "society" has told her in regards to how to dress and behave.  The disorder could also be an analogy to one of Herrick's perceptions on Art itself; that too much attention to detail and effort towards surface perfection put too much emphasis on form (calling to mind formal and formality) and  this could mean lack of attention to raw emotion and/or it could mean that if disorder conveys someone who is freer and not superficial, then she is also more profound or thoughtful.