Perhaps Lord Byron’s best-loved and most widely anthologised lyric poem, ‘She Walks in Beauty’ is quoted in Dead Poets Society as an attempt to seduce a young woman, and it epitomises a particular kind of Romantic poem: that is, a poem idolising (and idealising) a woman’s beauty.
She Walks in Beauty
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.
If you enjoyed ‘She Walks in Beauty’, you might also enjoy our pick of Shelley’s best poems.