She Walks in Beauty
"She Walks in Beauty" is a short lyrical poem in iambic tetrameter written in 1813 by Lord Byron, and is one of his most famous works.
It is said to have been inspired by an event in Byron's life; while at a ball, Byron met his cousin by marriage through Robert Wilmot, Mrs. Anne Beatrix Wilmot. She was in mourning, wearing a black dress set with spangles, as in the opening lines;
|“||She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
He was struck by her unusual beauty, and the next morning the poem was written.
It is thought that she was the first inspiration for his unfinished epic poem about Goethe, a personal hero of his. In this unpublished work, which Byron referred to in his letters as his magnum opus, he switches the gender of Goethe and gives him the same description of his cousin. This idea would have truly put Byron on the avant-garde.
The first two verses are cited in the novel The Philadelphian by Richard P. Powell. The poem is also referenced in a House of Night book, where 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.
- Musical settings
- Works related to She walks in beauty at Wikisource