What is the main idea of the poem “She Walks in Beauty”?

The main idea of the poem “She Walks in Beauty” is that the woman described by the speaker is quite beautiful. More importantly, however, she is serene and sweet because her heart and mind are pure and good.

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The main idea of “She Walks in Beauty” is that the woman the speaker describes is both beautiful as well as good and virtuous. In the first stanza, the speaker comments on the woman's beauty, comparing it to a cloudless and starry night, something that manages to be both dark and bright at the same time. The speaker considers day to be rather gaudy with its showier, flashier light, and he describes night as having a more “tender” and mellow kind of light, one that is much more becoming and attractive than garish day.

In the second stanza, the speaker describes both the woman's physical beauty as well as the beauty of her personality. She is, he suggests, perfect in that if she had any more darkness or lightness in her, it would impair the grace she seems to embody. She has black hair, “raven tress[es]” that somehow “softly lighten” over her face. He describes her face as “serenely” and “sweet[ly]” expressing of her thoughts, describing the mind where her thoughts originate as “pure” and “dear.” Thus, he comments on her personal characteristics too, namely her serenity and her purity of thought and feeling.

In the third and final stanza, the speaker describes the woman's cheek and 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!

She is not simply, then, beautiful and calm but also, most importantly, good. Her mind is “at peace with all below,” and her heart loves purely and innocently. This woman is, it would seem, an absolute ideal.

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