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What is the theme of "She walks in beauty" by Lord Byron? and what is the summary?it...

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dheez | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2010 at 12:54 AM via web

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What is the theme of "She walks in beauty" by Lord Byron? and what is the summary?

it would be really good if you could explain the summary line by line or maybe by stanza.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 6, 2010 at 1:06 AM (Answer #1)

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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:

This part means that she is beautiful like the nigt and that her face and eyes are a perfect combination of dark and light.

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;

This part means that if the color of her hair were a little darker or lighter it would not be so beautiful.  But, as it is, it looks much nicer than bright light would look.

The rest of the poem is just saying that all this beauty, and the way she looks in general, show that she is a good person and one whose heart and soul are at peace.

So the theme is the admiration that the speaker feels when he sees the subject's beauty and grace.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 6, 2010 at 2:58 AM (Answer #2)

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Lines 1 and 2 introduce the two opposing forces in the poem, darkness and light, by telling us the night is clear with bright stars. Lines 3 and 4 tell us how these two opposite forces "meet" in her. meaning that she is able to bring them together within her, as is seen in her outward appearance as well as in her eyes, her inward heart and soul. In lines 5 and 6, the speaker tells us that when darkness and light join together in this beautiful woman, they produce a softness, a "tender light" in her, not like the light of day, but softer and better. In lines 7-10, the poet again combines opposites, such as her dark hair ("raven tress") and her lightened face. Even if she weren't proportioned just right, she would still be half magnificent. Again, he is talking about both inner and outer beauty, as he refers to the "nameless grace" in the lady's hair and face. Lines 11 and 12 refer to the woman's thoughts and how pure her mind is. Lines 13-18 are the conclusion of the poem where the poet writes three lines about the woman's beauty and three lines that tell about her character. Her physical beauty is a result of doing good deeds and leads to her having a pure mind and giving heart.

The themes of the poem deal with harmony and perfection. The opposing forces which normally are unable to exist together can do so in the beautiful woman. They live in peace and harmony. Together, these opposites produce perfection. She is perfect in her appearance and in her personality. The woman's beauty comes from her thoughts and innocent mind. Her inward self creates the beauty in her outward appearance.

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