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being too precise

April 6, 2011

Lady of the Lake

Delight in Disorder by Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoestring, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

I think I would take Mr Herrick’s final line and say that “art is not art when it is too precise in every part.”

Like Chinese calligraphers who know they are good when their work is indistinguishable from the master they are emulating, being too perfect is to lose the sense of the individual and becomes a most excellent forgery, and where’s the fun in that?

Celtic knot work?  Not really.  It’s far too imprecise.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 8, 2011 3:46 pm

    This guy is great. I love his poetry. Some of his poems are famous and frequently quoted, but I hadn’t made the connection until now.

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