Context: A romantic poem by George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) in honour of his cousin Mrs. Wilmot. “She Walks in Beauty” is a short lyrical poem in iambic tetrameter written in 1813 by Byron and is one of his most famous works.
Notes: Here are some notes on the use of Old English words in the poem:
climes – regions
aspect – look
mellow’d – made soft
gaudy – bright in colours
had impair’d – would have damaged
waves – verb here. Moves to and fro.
raven – meaning black as a raven
tress – a lock of hair
serenely – peaceful
brow – forehead
eloquent – to communicate easily
tint – shade
all below – everyone on earth
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 mellow’d 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!