She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night

by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Literary Analysis

In “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night,” Lord Byron describes the theme of love, beauty, and nature, implying that the more humans come in contact with nature, the more beautiful they become. He describes nature as magnificent, and implies that our nature-like qualities make us innocent and humane. Furthermore, he believes that nature is a state of goodness, and when we approach this state, we become good too.

The speaker is a lover and the poet himself. The title “She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night” suggests a comparison between the beauty of a woman and the beauty of nature. The first stanza opens in a lighter mood, where the poet introduces his beloved to the readers, giving a brief description of her beauty, while the rest of the poem is an extended description of this theme. Starting with similes in the first two lines to describe the beauty of his beloved, the poet says, She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies,” then moves to associate her beauty with nature. He merges both kinds of beauty, arriving at the conclusion that her beauty is superior to that of nature.

He continues to extend his argument about beauty in the next stanza, praising his beloved, saying that she has attained perfect features and delicate balance: One shade the more, one ray the less,/ Had half impaired the nameless grace.” However, her grace is not impaired and has reached the point Where thoughts serenely sweet express” on her perfectly arranged features. He reinforces his argument further by entering into her inner life, illustrating the magnificence of her beauty, which is so powerful that it also works its way into her inner self, and makes her perfect as well as pure from the inside.

The final lines culminate in his description of her features: “And on that cheek, and o’er that brow.” The outcome of his argument is that her outward beauty has blessed her with inner purity and perfection which to him is “The smiles that win, the tints that glow, / But tell of days in goodness spent.” By the end of the poem, the poet declares that his lover’s beauty is the reason for her good character, declaring that this outer beauty leads to inner beauty and innocence.

Structural Analysis

The poem is a short lyric, and is divided into three stanzas with six lines in each stanza. The rhyme scheme is regular and simple, in an ABABAB pattern:

She walks in beauty, like the night            A
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;      B
And all that’s best of dark and bright         A
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;             B
Thus mellowed to that tender light            A
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.         B

Lord Byron wrote this poem in iambic tetrameter as “She walks in beauty, like the night/ Of cloudless climes and starry skies.” There are different poetic devices, such as similes, metaphors, imagery, and alliterations found in the poem. Simile is used to compare the woman’s beauty to that of nature as in, “She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies. Enjambment appears after every two lines as And all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes. Alliteration is employed frequently in several lines such as the “c” sound and the “s” sound in the following line: “Of cloudless climes and starry skies.” The diction is simple and easy to understand without any complex connotations.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

The poem is all about the association of feminine beauty and the beauty of nature. The poet creates an argument that the closer his beloved comes to nature, the more beautiful she becomes. The poet lets us know how her outer beauty transforms her inner self, and makes her pure and perfect. In other words, the poem is an admiration of a beloved. Therefore, lovers can also praise purity, perfection, and beauty of their beloveds by using quotes from this poem, such as:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

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