A Closed Reading of “She Walks in Beauty”

“She walks in beauty” by  LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)
A closed reading by Samuel Mork Bednarz

She walks in beauty
is an admiration of the genuine. A delve into what ought to be admired more so then what is. She walks in beauty says more about her walk then her beauty in so much as that the writer quickly tightens his nose on the internal qualities of her being rather than the external shapes and forms that might be pleasant on the eyes but heavy on the soul for those who find nothing more to be loved than the shapes of once thighs.

From the 3rd line to the last line of the first stanza Byron makes his point in mortar. He goes from “she walks in beauty” on the first line to “And all that’s best of dark and night” on the third. In here he has distinguished the dark from the bright as a sort of metaphor to the aspects of her person. He solidifies this interpretation as he continues “Meet in her aspect and her eyes.” Bringing home the point that the dark and the bright are part of her person. He uses the word aspect to describe her being and exactly what he means by “her eyes” is an open interpretation though one would be hard-pressed not to see the metaphor to the soul in so talking about her eyes in the context of the rest of the piece. It has often been said that the eyes are the window to the soul and this compliments his description of the dark and bright in her aspect.

He then goes on to say “thus mellowed to that tender light / Which heaven to gaudy day denies.” This is the point I find the most interesting about his text. Towards the end of the poem he mentions how her smile to him indicates that she has spent her days in goodness, and he ends the piece by concluding that her heart is innocent. In the end of the first stanza, when he talks about light and dark by describing it in her aspect as a “mellowed” or “tender light” he is really talking about modesty. About how she is good and bad and perfect for the way she is imperfect. This why it is the last line of the first stanza is my favorite line as he says “Which heaven to gaudy day denies.” This is where he expertly makes the point that heaven as we imagine it to be a perfect light is in fact missing the qualities of this imperfect personhood. Of the girl that balances between dark and bright and thus makes her smile a genuine one as opposed to the overly bright and forced light of that in which could be nothing but good. And as such she is the best of dark and bright. It is the genuine nature of her person that makes the beauty in her. So she walks in beauty, with a heart whose love is innocent!

Addendum: But then on the other hand, I guess what he is really saying according to Karl Marx is that poor people can’t afford to date women with big butts and must be satisfied with romanticizing the way people walk. It’s all relative.

 


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