She Walks in Beauty Questions and Answers
by Lord George Gordon Byron

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How does Byron use techniques such as simile, comparisons and alliteration to impact stanza one in the poem "She Walks In Beauty"?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The speaker uses a simile to compare a woman's beauty to the beauty of the night. Unlike the "gaudy day," both the woman and the night possess a "tender light" that is more mellow and lovely. The word gaudy has a very negative connotation, describing something that is showy or over-the-top; on the other hand, night, in this comparison, is described as having a subtler and more inviting kind of beauty. Night has the "best of dark and bright" while "heaven" is credited for denying day this same kind of beauty. This certainly impacts the mood of the stanza, making it feel almost dreamy and soft.

Further, a phrase like "gaudy day denies"—the last words of the stanza—is quite noisy, cacophonous, and enhances the idea that daytime is too much, too loud. The repetition of the "d" sound in all three words amounts to slant or approximate rhyme, but if you look only at the last two words, "day denies," it would be alliterative.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Poets use poetic techniques such as similes, metaphors and alliteration to increase the depth, profundity, mood and tone of the piece.  Let's take a look at the first stanza that you have mentioned, and see how those devices have an impact.  The very first line contains a simile (comparing two things using "like" or "as"):  "She walks in beauty like the night".  Byron then goes on to expand on that simile, saying, that like the night, her eyes have "all that's best of dark and bright", referring to the beauty of the dark skies, and the light of the stars.  Using a simile here greatly increases the depth of what Byron is saying.  He could've just said, "She sure is pretty" but instead compares her beauty to the vast and eternal sky; that says so much more.

The alliteration in the first stanza adds a serene, rhythmic feel to the poem.  Using "cloudless climes" and "starry skies" gives the poem a soothing, melodic, lyrical quality to the poem, increasing its beauty. Both of these techniques enhance the impact, the beauty and efficacy of the poem.

 

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