Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Analysis of "She Walks in Beauty" by George Gordon Byron

Original poem reprinted online here:  "She Walks in Beauty" by George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron)
Originally read: January 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  George Gordon Byron

What I didn't write in my notes (and I just realized this after rereading this poem) is that the poem is iambic octameter with three sestets with an alternating rhyme scheme (ababab, cdcdcd, efefef).  What does that mean to the poem?  There's something off with the poem.

Not in the sense of meaning, but the poem seems "incomplete" form wise.  The "usual"  form is iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets,  octaves (maybe even quatrains).  I'm probably looking too much into it, but form informs sound and interpretation.

With that being written, the most important line of the poem is deciphering the initial simile, "She walks in beauty like the night / of cloudless climes and starry skies."  So this is a dumb point for me to address, but the simile can refer to the "she" and also the concept of "beauty" since the construction of the sentence (which I didn't quote all).  And so these images "she" and "beauty" are intertwined with "the night" which the speaker constructs throughout the poem contrasting where and what "she" and "beauty" is.

I'm referring to this line at the end of the first stanza, "heaven to gaudy day denies."  I find this line to be pretty bold actually.  "Heaven" denies this beauty and woman.  Past me wrote, "Is she a beauty that, when seen in daylight, does no justice when seen in the night?"  I think past me is way too literal here.

Heaven can be a symbol of hierarchical conceptions.  Think pop-culture beauty versus individual preferences of beauty.  Now magnify this above debate to a religious scale.  I feel the poem is not condemning religion or even mentioning it as commentary -- however, the poem utilizes the extremes to magnify how the speaker feels about the subject.

And the comparisons to her and beauty become further defined.  This is not the "scary" night, but the soft, calm, and mysterious night, that if exposed ("One shade the more, one ray the less") would take away from the she, beauty, and night. Or rather, perhaps, one shouldn't delve deeper to actualize the meaning of beauty rather should trust empirical experience to feel beauty.

So, lastly, I write this, about darkness, "hidden or unexposed in a good way?"  I feel that the speaker addresses the subject as a question rather than adoration (yes, stanza 2 is physical adoration exemplified) because what does the speaker do with such beauty?  Writes it down, observes, and doesn't try to persuade the subject to be something else other than his own perception of beauty (which, I'm thinking, has it's good and bad points).  

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