Tuesday, 30 October 2018

She Walks in Beauty Lord Byron

She Walks in Beauty
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

Analysis of She Walks In Beauty - Stanza by Stanza

She Walks In Beauty is a flowing, musical lyric poem initially written as a song by Byron. It explores the idea of a female's physical appearance being dependent on her inner psychical state.
First Stanza
That well known first line is simple enough yet also slightly mysterious because of that preposition in which suggests the female figure's relationship to beauty is total.
The caesura midway through the line places special emphasis on that word beauty - the reader has to pause at the comma - with the feminine ending to beauty contrasting with the masculine night, the first of many opposites.
And note that the enjambment, when the line continues into the next without punctuation, is vital to maintaining the sense. The female is compared to the night of cloudless climes and starry skies, a simile which needs both lines to work to full effect.
Lines three and four are similar in that line three is incomplete without line four, dark and bright meet - again the duality persists.
  • The inversion of the iambic foot is important in line four because it reinforces the idea that these opposites exist both outwardly and inwardly. For the reader the change from iamb to trochee means that the stress comes on the first syllable - the word Meet - which alters the rhythm of the line.
The eyes have long been called the windows of the soul so the speaker is suggesting that her soul tends towards perfection (all that's best).
The last two lines, five and six, imply that the light of the night has the qualities of skin; it can be touched (tender), and that she has developed a naturally relaxed, softened approach to it. Daylight in comparison is vulgar and lacking (gaudy).
Note the religious reference - heaven - which hints at the divine.

Second Stanza
Nuances are apparent in this first line. If she gained or lost only a little of either the dark or light her nameless grace (a second religious reference? as grace is elated to Christian ideals) would be undermined.
The first line, split midway and ended by a comma, is an important focal point for it reflects the delicacy of her being. Her natural grace moves from hair - waves in every raven tress - to face which peacefully reflects her inner thoughts, which must be pure.
Note the repeated use of certain words and phrases, which underlines meaning.
The use of alliteration and internal rhyme brings musicality.
The use of opposites in a line emphasis the contrasts.

Third Stanza
Throughout this poem the concentration has been on the head, hair and face of the woman. This theme continues in the final stanza as the speaker introduces cheek and brow and lips - she wins people over with her glowing smile.
This focus on the positive physical attributes leads to the conclusion that morally she is also faultless - her love is innocent - she spends her time doing good - suggestive of saintly pursuits and behaviour.
She is content with her earthly existence, unsullied by life and untainted by love

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