She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. (Stanza 1)
This is the opening stanza of Byron’s shorter lyric She Walks in Beauty. The poet here expresses his impression of lady Horton, wife of his second cousin, Lord Horton, whom he met at a party, in her mourning dress. The lines contain the poet’s unqualified admiration of the graceful beauty of the lady.
The poet points out how much he is impressed by the lady’s grace and beauty. She seems to walk in her beauty that is likened to the dark night in cloud-free weather and the star-lit sky. Yet, all is not dark about her. There is a perfect combination of darkness and brightness in her figure and dress. While her dress and hair are black, her face and eyes are all bright. In fact, in her very appearance and eyes, there is perceived the synthesis of all that is best and perfect in darkness and brightness. The poet emphasizes her tender and soothing beauty that has no dazzle of scorching sunlight. This beauty is so restrained and so toned down to tenderness that it easily draws, but does not dazzle, like the scorching daylight that annoys.
This stanza represents Byron’s power of description which is a specific feature in his poetry. His representation of the calm beauty of the lady is vividly given out through the contrasting images of tender starlight and gaudy daylight. These antithetical images serve to emphasize the beauty of the lady.
Also read; She walks in beauty by Lord Byron poem text