Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Upon Julia's Clothes - Robert Herrick

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!

In his unashamed admiration of the beauty of the movement of Julia's silks, Robert Herrick never directly discusses Julia herself.  While odd to think of at first, it seems to me a very clever way of describing Julia's graceful qualities without sounding obvious and overt.  Saying that "Julia is exceedingly graceful" is nowhere near as effective as showing us how her clothes, like liquid, drape and glitter just so.  Clothes alone cannot move in a way so enticing as to inspire poesy.

The soundscape this poem creates is smartly constructed, full of vowel sounds that flow and rhyme (flows, goes, clothes) as silk does.  The sing song meter of the poem also contributes to the sense of motion of the piece, allowing us to, out loud, recreate those brave vibrations of Julia's silk.  Try reading this out loud.  Let the pace at which you read ebb and flow naturally, and you'll feel a slight tug and pull, almost like stirring bath water with your hands.  It's a wonderful poem to read aloud.

1 comment:

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