Where is the shift in "She Walks in Beauty"?

The shift in "She Walks in Beauty" occurs in line 11, when Byron turns his focus from his subject’s external appearance to her inner soul. Instead of concentrating on her physical features only, he speculates on her nature, based on the traits he observes.

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Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” exalts the elegance of a lovely lady. In this three-stanza poem, he initially concentrates on her actions and appearance. By the middle of the second stanza, though, the poet shifts his gaze from her external presentation to her internal being.

In the first stanza, Byron creates a visual image of his subject. He describes the manner in which she walks:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies.

Her movements are set off with perfectly gentle lighting:

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.

Byron begins the second stanza focusing on the lady’s hair (“waves in every raven tress”) and visage (“face”). By mid-stanza, however, he shifts his focus from the lady’s physical features to her internal thoughts and soul. In line 11, he notes that her face is lit in a way that enables him to see

where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

So instead of commenting on her superficial beauty, Byron speculates on the beauty of her mind. He appreciates her face for not only its aesthetic value but also its countenance. He explores her interior even more deeply as he describes the thoughts' pure and dear “dwelling-place”—her heart.

Byron continues the trajectory of this shift from external to internal in the final stanza. The smile on her face tells

of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

The poet interprets the lady’s inner integrity, serenity, and purity all from her appearance and manner.

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