“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies”
—> utilises the imagery of darkness to emphasise the woman’s beauty, even though the dark was seen as a taboo in literature
-‘cloudless’ suggests how her beauty was natural, not being veiled by anything
—> celestial imagery of stars immediately creates a sense of idolisation from Lord Byron, putting the woman on a higher pedestal compared to ordinary humans.
“ best of dark and bright// Meet in her aspect and her eyes”
—> Enjambment portrays breathlessness and reflects passion
-fascination at her beauty (heavenly)
‘Thus mellowed to that tender light’
—> highlights the softened luminosity of the night, which juxtaposes the harsh and brutal light of day.
—> mellowed and tender create a gentle tone which suggests how the woman moves with grace and a heavenly charm.
‘Which Heaven to gaudy day denies’
—> Challenges conventions of love and literature, saying daytime is too bright. Similar to his personality as he did what many seemed wrong.
-gaudy implies flashing attractive but this beauty has depth and internal radiance
—> capitalisation of Heaven is perhaps a direct comparison between the dark allure of the woman and the harsh blaze of heaven’s light
Lord Byron uses hyperbole to create an atmosphere of divinity around the woman, highlighting the extent of her beauty
One shade the more, one ray the less”
‘the nameless grace’
—> Antithesis through the parallelism of light and dark, highlights the perfect balance of the woman’s beauty
—> her beauty is beyond words
-nameless suggests bryon cannot understand where her beauty originates
“Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling place”
—> Her outward beauty is an expression of her inner beauty. She is beautiful as she thinks beautiful thoughts.
- serene portrays her composed and tranquil
- sweet alludes to youthful innocent and purity
“So soft, so calm yet eloquent”
—> Sibilance creates a soothing mood
eloquent - her beauty almost speaks, very conventional: goodness and beauty go together, yet also breaks this convention throughout the poem
mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”
—> Poem ends in celebration of the woman’s personality, morals and virtues, instead of appearance.
her beautiful body is a reflection of inner peace
3 stanzas all 6 lines, regular rhyme scheme of ABABAB
-emphasises the regularity of the woman’s walk but also her faultless perfection
-multiple enjambments: almost as if Lord Byron cannot pause for breath as he tries to tell the reader how beautiful she is
- Inspiration: Many of Byron’s biographers agree about the occasion that inspired the poem. On June 11, 1814, Byron is said to have attended a party, perhaps a ball, at the home of a Lady Sitwell, and there to have seen for the first time his young cousin by marriage, Mrs. Robert John Wilmot, dressed in a black mourning dress adorned with spangles. Supposedly Byron wrote ‘She Walks in Beauty’ either the same night or early the next morning.
- ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’: Lord Byron had a notorious reputation and was famously labelled ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know.’ He was renowned for his flamboyance, lambasted for his louche lifestyle and chased for his debts. Born in London in 1788, he spent his life collecting sensations and courting controversy. While a student at Cambridge, for example, he kept a tame bear as a pet, taking it for walks as one would a dog. During his acrimonious and very public divorce in 1816, Byron was rumoured to be having a sexual relationship with his half-sister, an allegation he denied in public but less adamantly in his private letters. By his own account, Byron had many lovers, and most biographers agree that he had relationships with both women and men.