She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to the tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One ray the more, one shade the less
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.


  1. The adjective “eloquent” describes a person or speech that is persuasive, fluent, or forcefully expressive. Byron concludes the poem by implying that the woman’s physical appearance expresses her inner morality and purity—for her soft cheeks and winning smile ultimately “tell of days in goodness spent.”

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The adjective “serene” means peaceful and untroubled. Byron believes that this woman only thinks peaceful, calm thoughts because her outward appearance is so beautiful. Further, he suggests that this woman’s beauty and untroubled thoughts reflect inner purity.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Line seven features antithesis, or the presentation of two contrasting ideas within parallel grammatical structures. Though antithesis can be used to create opposition between concepts, Byron employs it in order to expand upon the text’s underlying theme of harmony, the balance between darkness and light.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The adjective “gaudy” means tastelessly showy or extravagant. Byron suggests that the merging of darkness and light in the woman’s appearance is better than the showy brightness of daytime because it is a more “tender light.”

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Byron uses diacope, or the repetition of a word with intervening words in between, in this line. Similar to alliteration, diacope contributes a sense of musicality to the poem’s rhythm. Further, the repetition of the pronoun “her” augments the striking imagery that Byron uses to represent the woman’s beauty.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. In this context, the noun “aspect” refers to the woman’s appearance, particularly her face. Byron develops the simile he began in the first line by claiming that the beauty of a cloudless, starry night—“all that’s best of dark and bright”—can be seen in his unnamed subject’s face and eyes.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Line two employs alliteration, or the repetition of consonant sounds, by repeating the consonant “c” in “cloudless” and “climes.” Further, Byron uses sibilance, a type of alliteration in which words containing the letter “s” are repeated, in the words “cloudless,” “climes,” “starry,” and “skies.” Alliteration and sibilance lend a musical quality to the poem’s cadence and provide poetic ornamentation that mirrors the beauty of the woman described.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. The noun “clime” is another word for “climate,” or weather that is typical to a particular region over a long period of time. Byron indicates that the geographic location of this nighttime scene has a peaceful climate.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Byron introduces the subject of the poem with a simile, a literary device comparing two things with the words “like” or “as.” Comparing the woman’s beauty to a clear and starry night is not only memorable for the reader, but also presents an ideal of feminine beauty that borders on abstract as opposed to realistic. As a result, Byron resists giving many concrete details about her looks and her personality throughout the text but the intention of his comparison is conveyed.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. The first two lines of the poem are an example of enjambment, a device in which a thought or idea that begins in one line flows into the next in a line of verse. In this context, enjambment creates movement while also establishing the poem’s rhythmic pattern of iambic tetrameter.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. What is the effect of the speaker's reference to both dark and light in these lines?

    — Donielle Hartley