She Walks With Beauty Essay, Research Paper
Explication of Lord Byron?s "She Walks In Beauty"
Lord George Gordon Noel Byron, or Lord Byron as he preferred to be called, was a known philanderer with an insatiable appetite. In letters to Percy Shelley, he told of short-lived romances with women he claimed did not understand the wants and needs of men. One of these women was Lady Caroline Lamb, who he found only physically attractive, and soon grew tired of her because she was "ridiculously overpassionate". Later in his life, he took to referring to such women as “Carolinish.” In his twenties, there were rumors that Lord Byron went as far as courting his sister over a period of several years because she seemed to truly understand him, but the affair ended as those rumors continued to spread. In his poem "She Walks In Beauty", Lord Byron describes what he thinks to be the perfect woman.
The rhyming, meter, and sound devices give the poem a melodious and gentle tone. This tone suggests the tender nature of this enchanting woman and gives the reader a sense of consistency that allows them to focus more on the woman than the wording of the poem. The alternating rhyme scheme in all three sestets gives the poem its consistent tone. "She walks in beauty, like the night," (1) rhyming with "And all that?s best of dark and bright," (3) makes the poem easier to remember and pleasing to the reader?s eyes and ears. The iambic tetrameter, when read aloud, guides the reader along in such a way that the poem maintains a smooth and graceful sound. "Of cloudless climes and starry skies," (2) is more pleasant when read with the proper accents than if it were read without its proper meter. The alliteration also contributes to the smooth and melodious sound in the poem. "Serenely sweet," (11), "Cloudless climes" (2), and "Day denies," (6) contribute to the gentle and consistent tone, thus allowing the reader to focus more on the woman rather than on the sharpness of the wording. Likewise, the sibilance adds to the soft tone by its water-like sounds. "So soft, so calm," (14) does not disrupt the tone or take the focus off the woman but adds to the euphonic sound, thus maintaining the poems melodious and consistent tone.
The imagery and word choice in the poem adds to its pleasing tone, as well as showing us the narrator?s reverence for this woman he has yet to see. "She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies," (1 and 2), shows us that the narrator is, at first, fascinated by this woman?s appearance. She is compared to the night, which is a time commonly associated with all things mysterious. Thus telling us that he is enchanted by her mysterious qualities. "All that?s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and here eyes," (3 and 4) allows us to see her perfection. The word "aspect" can be used to mean both personality and appearance. By using it, he shows the reader that her beauty and character captivate him. He has taken the best qualities from both ends of the spectrum to show us that he not only admires her appearance, but also her disposition. He also admires this woman for sense of balance, which is alluded to in those same two lines; she is gentle and kind yet has dark and mysterious qualities lurking within. "Thus mellowed to that tender light / Which heaven to gaudy day denies," (5 and 6). Lord Byron goes further by telling us how the light of heaven and day fail to measure up to this woman?s perfection. He places her upon the highest of pedestals by saying that even the Kingdom of God, Himself, cannot compare to this woman?s appearance and disposition. Compared to the woman, day is flashy and tasteless. She is simple yet elegant, mysterious and gentle. "Had half impair’d the nameless grace," (8). Lord Byron does not know any woman who fits his mold of female quintessence. He calls this woman the "nameless grace" because he is describing his perfect woman.
One could argue that Lord Byron wrote this poem as a form of nostalgia, to remember times well spent with a former love. "But tell of days in goodness spent," (16), supports this thesis. However, "the nameless grace," (8), rebuts the claim because one cannot have fond memories of times well spent with a person who does not exist. One could also argue that Lord Byron has written this about a woman who broke his heart with the lines "A mind at peace with all below / A heart whose love is innocent!" (lines 17 and 18). A mind that is truly at peace and a heart whose love is innocent would not do anything to hurt another. If this poem were truly written about a woman who had broken his heart, those two lines wold have no reason to be part of this poem. Furthermore, the poem would not have the same consistent and gentle tone, as that would contradict the point of the poem.
Lord Byron was a man who spent a great deal of his adult life in search of the perfect woman. A woman with the same gentleness and mysteriousness as the one he described in his poem. It was not a coincidence that the qualities he described were the same as those he longed to find, instead, it was completely intentional. Lord Byron?s "She Walks In Beauty" is a poem where Lord Byron describes what he considers to be the perfect woman.