Dudù, as has been said, was a sweet creature,
Not very dashing, but extremely winning,
With the most regulated charms of feature,
Which painters cannot catch like faces sinning
Against proportion -- the wild strokes of nature
Which they hit off at once in the beginning,
Full of expression, right or wrong, that strike,
And pleasing or unpleasing, still are like.
What is the meaning of this all in plain English - especially the part in bold?
My attempts at deciphering this:
She had a symmetrical face ("regulated charms of feature")? Hm.. Or, to the contrary, her face and body were not symmetrical?
Painters fail to reflect such "asymmetrical charms" in their paintings? In comparison, they fail to reflect "faces that sin against proportion".
Painters "hit off" = "describe in few characteristic strokes of a brush" - in the beginning of their work upon a portrait.
What does "that strike" refer to? The strokes left on the canvas by the painters "strike" the viewers as very interesting/beautiful?
The phrase "still are like" leaves me completely baffled. Such strokes on the canvas, reflecting the irregular but characteristic features, are all alike, no matter who is being painted?
I've reread the stanza many times but I cannot get a grip on its meaning. Once I think I understand some particular phrase, the general meaning starts to crawl apart because it fails to dovetail with other phrases.