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She Walks in Beauty

By gigglegifts Apr 14, 2013 554 Words
Of the several forms of poetry; the lyric poems “…melody and emotion create a dominant, unified impression” (Clugston). She Walks in Beauty is a lyric poem written by Lord Byron in 1815. The theme of the poem is the woman's exceptional beauty, internal as well as external. The first stanza praises her physical beauty. The second and third stanzas praise both her physical and spiritual, or intellectual, beauty. Byron uses rhythm and alliteration to enhance the appeal of the poem to the ear. He also uses similes, metaphors, personification and imagery to better express the beauty of the woman.

Rhythm is “the recognizable pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry, which may recur in the poem” (Clugston). The rhyme scheme of the first stanza of She Walks in Beauty is ababab; the second stanza, cdcdcd; and the third stanza, efefef. The meter is predominantly iambic tetrameter, a pattern in which a line has four pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables—eight syllables in all. The first two lines demonstrate the pattern followed throughout the poem except for line 6, which has nine syllables.

Alliteration is a figure of speech in which the initial consonant of the words are repeated. For example in line 2 he uses “cloudless climes” and “starry skies”. In line 6 he uses “day denies” and in line 9 he uses “which waves”. I found Lord Byron’s use of alliteration very interesting and beautiful. This technique makes poems easier to read, therefore catching the reader’s attention.

The contrast between night and day, and dark and light, is the image that sets up the whole poem. However, this contrast is a startling image: we're not used to comparing beautiful women to "night," we're used to comparing them to "summer's days," like in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. But Byron dismisses that convention, and suggests that it's the harmony of two contrasting opposites, like night and day, or light and dark, make something (or someone) really beautiful. Line 1 is where the basic simile of the whole poem is established: the beauty of the woman is "like the night." Line 7 points out that the woman's beauty is a perfect balance of light and dark – if she were any darker ("one shade the more"), the harmony would get messed up. The line itself is perfectly balanced between opposites: "shade" and "ray," "more" and "less." But if you think about it, the two halves of the line say the same thing: "one shade the more" means, "if she were any darker." But "one ray the less" also means, "if she were any darker." It sounds like you're saying two opposite things but, really, the meaning of both is the same. In line 6, "heaven" is personified – after all, the sky can't really "deny" anyone anything, so the poet is giving it attributes of a human being. She Walks in Beauty may have been written two hundred years ago, but it is a wonderful piece that demonstrates several writing techniques. The rhythm and sound of the poem makes it catchy and artistic. The personification and imagery paint a real picture of beauty. With these techniques I better understood She Walks in Beauty, and was able to truly appreciate it.


Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc

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