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Analysis of She Walks in Beauty

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1 Analysis of She Walks in Beauty

2 As the title says, SHE walks in beauty, the main theme of the poem is the description of a lady, the enumeration of certain qualities that the author considers give her beauty. The introduction of the verb to “walk” in the title is important because it gives connotations of advancing, not only in space but also in time. It makes reference to the movement of walking, introducing the reader this way into a bidimensional reading which is going to be constant through out all of the poem.

3 The center of the poem is the lady, and the author expresses that central importance by capitalizing the whole pronoun SHE .

4 As I said before, the observation, and the following description of Byron leads the reader to a dual dimension that enriches the poem. Evidences of this dualism are some interesting contrasts reflected in the poem: line 3 “ and all that’s best of dark and bright” that gives us the idea that such a lady includes amongst her qualities light and darkness, good and evil, she is a mixture of both. This is not an archetypical description that gives only a positive and idealized point of view. But, being a Romantic description it is also a profound and realistic one. The vision of the poet describes a beauty of “shade” and “ray”, giving us again the impression that she is not only positive.

5 Another interesting contrast that reinforces the dualism is that of introducing the word “mellow’d” in line 5, giving her qualities of mature and experienced beauty, and it is in contrast with the last word of the poem “innocent”, this way Byron expresses the contradictions that the beauty of that lady can posses.

6 It is also important the contrast that Byron makes in the last two verses with the words “mind” and “heart” by separating them and making a clear distinction between the experience and the peace of her mind, and the innocence of her heart, of her feelings. This makes reference to the eternal separation of feelings and thoughts, the fight of the two realities inside of a person, in this case, the lady. Dualism is present in the poem to the end.

7 It is important the introduction of the theme of the passing time and the aquisition of experience. Evidence of this is verse 16 where the author atributes the lady the property of experience of “days in goodness spent”. The vocabulary that Byron uses is clear, simple and accessible to all kind of readers. The Semantic field is based on two branches: on the one hand the introduction of terms referring to the phisical description of the lady: “face, cheek, brow, aspect, smiles, eyes”. On the other hand they are in contrast with terms linked to a more internal description: “thought, grace, tender, peace, love, calm” stressing again this bidimensional property of the lady.

8 The tone used by the author is serious, and this can be observed in the strict use of the Structure : All the verses have 8 syllables, the rhymes are regular and perfect: ababab cdcdcd efefef. The conclussion of this analysis is that the vision of the lady that Byron gives us is a mixture of several elements, always dual, full of contradictions that takes the reader to a more realistic anc complete vision of the conception of a lady that the author has. It is not a simple vision where everything is lovely, positive and innocent, it is not a naive expression of feelings that can blind the lover taking only into account the positive qualities of the lady. It is more a contrast between two realities, mind and heart, experience and innocence, the physical and the psychological worlds.

9 Type of Work and Year Written  “She Walks in Beauty” is a lyric poem centering on the extraordinary beauty of a young lady. George Gordon Byron (commonly known as Lord Byron) wrote the poem in 1814 and published it in a collection, Hebrew Melodies, in 1815.  Background On the evening of June 11, 1814, Byron attended a party with his friend, James Wedderburn Webster, at the London home of Lady Sarah Caroline Sitwell. Among the other guests was the beautiful Mrs. Anne Beatrix Wilmot, the wife of Byron’s first cousin, Sir Robert Wilmot. Her exquisite good looks dazzled Byron and inspired him to write “She Walks in Beauty.” (In 1823, Wilmot inherited the estate of his wife’s father, Eusebius Horton. In accordance with the will, Sir Robert assumed the additional surname Horton. Thereafter, he was known as Robert Wilmot-Horton and his wife as Anne Wilmot-Horton.)  Theme The theme of the poem is the woman's exceptional beauty, internal as well as external. The first stanza praises her physical beauty. The second and third stanzas praise both her physical and spiritual, or intellectual, beauty. 

10 Rhyme Scheme and Meter The rhyme scheme of the first stanza is ababab; the second stanza, cdcdcd; and the third stanza, efefef. All the end rhymes are masculine. The meter is predominantly iambic tetrameter, a pattern in which a line has four pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables—eight syllables in all. The first two lines demonstrate the pattern followed throughout the poem except for line 6, which has nine syllables:            She WALKS | in BEAU | ty, LIKE | the NIGHT         Of CLOUD | less CLIMES | and STAR | ry SKIES Enjambment Lines 1 and 2 contain enjambment (carrying the sense of one line of verse over to the next line without a pause). Thus, there is no pause after night. Pauses occur at the end of the other lines. Use of Alliteration Alliteration occurs frequently to enhance the appeal of the poem to the ear. The most obvious examples of this figure of speech include the following: Line 2:....cloudless climes; starry skies.  Line denies  Line 8:....Had half Line 9:....Which waves Line 11...serenely sweet Line 14...So soft, so Line 18...Heart Whose

11 Other Figures of Speech Examples of other figures of speech are the following:
Lines 1, 2:......Simile comparing the movement of the beautiful woman to the movement of the skies  Line 6: Metonymy, in which heaven is substituted for God or for the upper atmosphere Lines 8-10:......Metaphor comparing grace, a quality, to a perceivable phenomenon Lines 11-12:....Metaphor and personification comparing thoughts to people; metaphor and personification comparing the mind to a home (dwelling-place) Lines 13-16:....Metaphor and personification comparing the woman's cheek and brow to persons who tell of days in goodness spent

12 Imagery: Light and Darkness Byron presents an ethereal portrait of the young woman in the first two stanzas by contrasting white with black and light with shadow in the same way that nature presents a portrait of the firmament—and the landscape below—on a cloudless starlit evening. He tells the reader in line 3 that she combines “the best of dark and bright” (bright here serving as an noun rather than an adjective) and notes that darkness and light temper each other when they meet in her raven hair. Byron's words thus turn opposites into compeers working together to celebrate beauty.

13 Study Questions and Writing Topics
1...What is beauty? To what extent does beauty depend on personality? 2...Was Byron declaring his love for the young woman or simply celebrating her beauty? 3...Write a poem about a quality—strength, generosity, kindness, beauty, charm, selflessness, etc.  4...Write an essay that analyzes another poem by Byron. 

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