She Walks in Beauty

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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 mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray 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!

"She Walks in Beauty" is a poem written in 1814 by Lord Byron, and is one of his most famous works. It was one of several poems to be set to Jewish tunes from the synagogue by Isaac Nathan, which were published as Hebrew Melodies in 1815.[1]

It is said to have been inspired by an event in Byron’s life; while at a ball, Byron met Mrs. John Wilmot, his cousin by marriage. She was in mourning, wearing a black dress set with spangles, as in the opening lines;

He was struck by her unusual beauty, and the next morning the poem was written.[2]

Nathan, in his reminiscences of Byron, suggests (without any justification) that the subject of the poem may have been Byron's half-sister, Augusta Leigh.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelly, David." Critical Essay on ‘She Walks in Beauty’." Poetry for Students. Ed. Anne Marie Hacht.Vol.14.Detroit:Gale Group,2002.Literary Resource Center.Web.24 Sept. 2010.
  2. ^ Cummings, Michael J. (2008) "Byron's She Walks in Beauty" at Cummings Study Guides. Accessed 10 July 2014
  3. ^ The complete works of Lord Byron, A. and W. Galignani, 1841, p. 254 

Recordings of the songs included in the Hebrew Melodies publication of 1815 can be heard at http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/douglass/music/album-hebrew.html