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She Walks In Beauty
By: Lord Byron (George Gordon)

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 mellowed 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. One of Lord Byron’s most famous, it is a lyric poem that describes a woman of much beauty and elegance.
What’s Up With the Title?
We usually refer to this poem simply by its first line, "She Walks in Beauty." But the first line does more than introduce the subject of the poem – a beautiful woman. The first line of the poem (and therefore the title) is an apparently conscious echo of the famous sonnet by William Shakespeare, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" (Sonnet 18). Except, of course, instead of comparing the beautiful woman to a "summer's day," Byron compares her to "night." So he's not just setting up a contrast between night and day, he's also setting up a contrast between himself and Shakespeare.

This is a pretty gutsy move, if you think about it – even in the early nineteenth century, when Byron was writing, Shakespeare was generally accepted to be the greatest English poet of all time. Usually, when poets referenced Shakespeare, they did so in an almost reverential way. But here, Byron gives Shakespeare a shout-out, only to turn Shakespeare's simile on its ear...

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