George Gordon Byron was a well known romantic poet in the 19th century, a passionate womanizer as well as a hero in Greece. He was born in London in 1788, and became a Lord in 1798 when he inherited the title and the estate from his great-uncle (Gamber). Thus he became the well known Lord Byron. Several months before meeting his first wife, Lord Byron attended a party at Lady Sitwell’s at June 1814 (Gamber). Mrs. Wilmot, Lord Byron’s beautiful cousin, attended the party in a black mourning dress.
The poet became captivated by his cousin’s alluring beauty; her fair face contrasting with her dark hair and dress. Inspired by the opposing shades that created such an attractive woman, he wrote a poem about her in 1814 (Gamber). In Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty,” motifs, personification and imagery express the theme that the combining of light and dark reflect a perfect inner and outer beauty. Lord Byron connects two pairs of motifs in “She Walks in Beauty” to establish the theme. One motif is dark and light while the other is inner and outer beauty.
Throughout the poem he combines the negative and positive things of a woman and creates a perfect whole (“Lord”). “She walks in beauty, like the night/ Of cloudless climes and starry skies;”(1-2) These first two lines combine night with stars to illustrate that without stars the night would be a black void, but together, they illustrate a shimmering sky. “And all that’s best of dark and bright/ Meet in her aspect and her eyes:/ Thus mellow’d to that tender light”(3-5) Here two opposing forces meet in this woman to create a mellowed whole (“She”).
This ties back to the theme because the inner and outer beauty of the woman act as positive reflections of each other as the outcome of the balance in between dark and light. “The smiles that win, the tints that glow. ” (15) The woman has a tender aspect and a glowing smile, both of which are attractive outer beauties. “A mind at peace with all below,/ A heart whose love is innocent! ” (17-18) Byron describes her as having a peaceful mind and virtuous heart, meaning her conscience is also perfect. The woman’s entire being is perfect because of the proportion between the dark and light meeting in her (“Analysis”).
Byron states that if she had “One shade the more, one ray the less,” (7) she would be half as splendid. Together good and bad become tender, and both the body and soul of this woman reflect this tenderness. Personification creates a romantic image of the woman’s physical and mental figure to accent the effects of the bond of dark and light. Byron uses this to emphasize that the woman is only so beautiful because of this bond, as said in the theme. Byron first personifies Heaven by giving it the attribute to deny something. “Thus mellow’d to that tender light/Which heaven to gaudy day denies. (5-6) The personification of heaven shows that her beauty has a “tender light” that is unlike daytime —which is flashy—but so tender that heaven denies daytime the honor of having (“She”). This connects to the theme because the woman is only tender because light and bright meet in her. Byron then personifies her thoughts by giving them the ability to express to show how gentle the woman is (Cummings).
“Where thoughts serenely sweet express”(11) The following line states that her thought’s home is pure and dear. “How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. (12) Since thoughts are not physical and cannot have a literal “dwelling-place” Byron uses personification to stress her virtuousness (Cummings). This can be tied to the theme because the previous lines implement the balance of shades and rays which are followed by the personification of her pure mind. Her pure mind is something inside her that cannot be seen; it is an inner beauty. “The smiles that win, the tints that glow,/But tell of days in goodness spent,” (15-16) Her smiles win over people’s hearts but reflect good morality.
Smiles cannot speak, so Byron personifies them with the ability to “tell” of how good the woman is. A smile is an outer beauty, a mind is an inner beauty, and this connects with the theme regarding the fact that her inner and outer beauty are in a perfect pair. Lord Byron captures the radical difference of illumination and shade with imagery. He also describes the woman’s appearance with this literary device. In the first line, Byron creates an obscure vision for the reader. “She walks in beauty, like the night. ”(1) Night is black and somber, and this line is used to make the feel reader insecure and unsure.
However, in the next line, Byron introduces the radiance of stars, which perfects the image of the woman’s likeness to the night (“She”). “Of cloudless climes and starry skies;”(2) Without the introduction of stars into the black night, the woman would be incomplete. This ties back to the theme because the woman’s beauty is complete because she is not only obscure but also radiant. Byron uses imagery to describe the woman’s fair skin in contrast with her raven colored hair to visually show how beautiful dark and light can be together.
“One shade the more, one ray the less,/Had half impair’d the nameless grace/ Which waves in ever raven ress/Or softly lightens o’er her face;” (7-10) He states that if anything changed, if the woman had more light or more darkness in her, she wouldn’t be as splendid. This stresses the theme in the sense that the woman has the perfect amount of each contrasting force (“Analysis”). In the last stanza Byron positively uses imagery to illustrate the woman’s face. “And so on that cheek, and o’er that brow,/So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,” (13-14) The woman’s face is not only delicate but also dazzling. Byron finalizes all the sums of dark and bright to finally show the overall product—A beautiful woman, in and out.
Through motifs, personification and imagery, Lord Byron establishes that with the combination of light and dark, a woman attains a perfect inner and outer beauty. The two motifs in his poem are dark and light as well as inner and outer beauty. Byron uses personification to develop the woman’s physical and mental attributes. Imagery is used as a visual aid for the readers to imagine the woman’s beauty. Throughout the poem he stresses that the good and bad things of a woman is what makes her perfect. The woman’s beauty is a reflection of her pure ways, which only exist because of the balance of light and dark in her.
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