Introduction to She Walks in Beauty

“She Walks in Beauty” is a poem by Lord George Gordon Byron. Written in 1814, Byron published the poem in the collection Hebrew Melodies, which he collaborated on with musician Isaac Nathan. It has gone on to become one of Byron’s most famous works. The lyrical poem is written in iambic tetrameter, with an ababab rhyme scheme. It celebrates the beauty of an unnamed woman, within whom darkness and light exist in harmony. These contrasting images are used throughout the poem to illustrate the necessary contrasts that form truly complex beauty, as well as to emphasize the duality of inner and outer beauty that the woman possesses. While her “raven tress[es]” and eyes are physically lovely, it is her inner goodness that makes her truly beautiful. The “mind at peace” and “heart whose love is innocent” speak to a grander sense of purity that is reflected outward through her visage.

A Brief Biography of Lord George Gordon Byron

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788–1824) was born to a family with aristocratic ties. His childhood was troubled; his father was an irresponsible military man who died at a young age, and his mother struggled with alcoholism. Byron did not distinguish himself academically or artistically during his education at Harrow and then Cambridge, but as a young man he turned his attention to poetry. He gained swift fame after publishing the beginning of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage in 1812, and he embarked on a life of adventure, touring Europe extensively and dodging creditors. Byron continued to write and publish, and he achieved a rare kind of celebrity, becoming known as much for his grandiose persona and real-life exploits as for his literary pursuits as. The last of these exploits was his involvement in the Greek War of Independence, in which he fought for the Greek side and died.

Byron brought to the British Romantic movement a narrative sensibility and epic scope, as epitomized in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1818) and especially Don Juan (1824). He also created the literary archetype known as the Byronic hero: a brooding, passionate protagonist who chafes against society’s strictures. This archetype proved influential to later artists and thinkers of the nineteenth century.

Frequently Asked Questions about She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty

In “She Walks in Beauty,” it becomes most clear that the speaker describes not just the woman’s physical or external beauty but, rather, her spiritual and inner beauty as well. Though he refers to...

Latest answer posted May 21, 2021, 12:13 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

She Walks in Beauty

Throughout "She Walks in Beauty," the poet uses images of light to describe a particular beautiful woman. He writes, for example, that the woman's beauty is like a "tender light / Which heaven to...

Latest answer posted May 21, 2021, 11:47 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

The word impaired, by itself, is an adjective that describes something or someone which is diminished in some way, and it can also describe something or someone that is weakened and imperfect....

Latest answer posted May 21, 2021, 11:58 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

This line is one of a series of praises of the beautiful woman with bright eyes and dark hair who is the centerpiece of the poem. The speaker has gradually risen to an emotional crescendo in his...

Latest answer posted May 21, 2021, 12:03 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

In the opening stanza of "She Walks in Beauty," the speaker, describing the beautiful woman before him, says that "all that's best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes." The...

Latest answer posted May 21, 2021, 11:28 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

“She Walks in Beauty” is very much a poem steeped in Romantic tradition, in which the speaker seems to see only the goodness in an individual and finds great beauty in nature, drawing the two...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2021, 11:58 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

Throughout "She Walks in Beauty," the speaker draws on the symbolic connotations of light and dark to evoke the beauty of the woman described. In the first stanza, the speaker says that all that's...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2021, 11:40 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

The speaker of the poem describes the lady’s beauty as a sort of meeting or combination of contrasts. He describes both her outward, physical beauty, as well as her inner, spiritual beauty, the...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2021, 11:34 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

In this poem, Byron consistently uses words with positive connotations to create an idealized picture of a perfect woman, inside and out. The woman is described as having dark hair and bright eyes,...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2021, 11:56 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

Lord Byron compares the subject of his poem to the night: She walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies. This poem is now so well known that it has, to some extent,...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2021, 12:00 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

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,...

Latest answer posted May 19, 2021, 4:31 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

We can never know the exact intention behind an author's writing or the literary devices they employ; however, we can examine the effect that these devices have and what they add to the work to...

Latest answer posted May 19, 2021, 12:15 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

Byron presents love as something that must encompass and address both body and soul, the physical and the spiritual. The speaker describes the physical beauty of the poem's subject, detailing her...

Latest answer posted May 19, 2021, 2:51 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

She Walks in Beauty

The speaker of this poem describes a beautiful woman, saying that she is both “dark and bright” in her beauty, like a cloudless, starry, black night sky. Just as this sky manages to be both dark...

Latest answer posted May 19, 2021, 2:36 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

Byron's poem is Romantic in several ways. Chiefly, however, it is Romantic in that it depicts a woman in an ideal form. The Romantic poets and writers often wanted to show life not as it is but as...

Latest answer posted May 19, 2021, 11:32 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

In Lord Byron's poem "She Walks in Beauty," the speaker is primarily discussing the physical and spiritual beauty of a woman. These lines describe some aspects of the woman's physical appearance...

Latest answer posted May 18, 2021, 11:21 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

The woman in the poem is based on Anne Beatrix Wilmot, the wife of Byron's first cousin. He is said to have seen her at a party and been so struck by her beauty, dressed in a black dress with...

Latest answer posted May 18, 2021, 11:36 am (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

First, the speaker of the poem uses a simile to compare the beauty of the woman to a cloudless and starry night: She walks in beauty, like the nightOf cloudless climes and starry skies. A simile...

Latest answer posted May 18, 2021, 1:29 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

Tone in literature is the writer's attitude toward the subject in question. In this poem, the speaker's subject is a beautiful woman he sees and admires. His tone is one of deep, sincere, and...

Latest answer posted May 18, 2021, 1:29 pm (UTC)

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She Walks in Beauty

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,...

Latest answer posted May 18, 2021, 1:04 pm (UTC)

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Summary