The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Stanzas for Music” is a brief lyric poem of sixteen lines, one of five that Byron wrote with the same title. As its title suggests, it was written to be set to music, and its musical qualities have bearing upon its theme and structure.

The poem is written as an address by the poet to a person with whom he is infatuated. It is couched in feminine references and is most conveniently discussed as a love lyric to a woman, but it is important to note that the gender of the addressee is never specified. For that matter, the word love is never mentioned. The tone of the poem is one of adoration, and the poet carefully chooses words and images to evoke emotions that transcend feelings of simple affection. In the first two lines, for example, he creates a persona for his addressee by comparing her favorably to “Beauty’s daughters.” By alluding that she is more enchanting than the children of a personified ideal, he endows her with a godlike presence. He reinforces this apotheosis through the application of synecdoche, the use of a part or element to suggest a whole. The only aspect of the addressee that the poet describes is her voice, and just as readers are able to infer the totality of the Old Testament God from his manifestation as a disembodied voice, so can they envision a being of divine nature from the phenomena for which the woman’s voice alone is responsible.

The poet conveys the majesty of his subject by comparing her effect...

(The entire section is 442 words.)