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 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;

He was struck by her unusual beauty, and the next morning the poem was written.[1]

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 In this unpublished work, which Byron referred to in his letters as his magnum opus, he switches the gender of Goethe and gives him the same description of his cousin.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.

Cultural references[edit]


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.[2]

Musical settings

The poem has inspired various composers over time, including Roger Quilter, Gerald Finzi, Isaac Nathan, Connor J. Koppin and Chanticleer Men's Chorus Conductor/Composer Eric Barnum.


  1. ^ Cummings, Michael J. (2008) "Byron's She Walks in Beauty" at Cummings Study Guides. Accessed 10 July 2014
  2. ^ The complete works of Lord Byron, A. and W. Galignani, 1841, p. 254 

External links[edit]