Posted by: Tom Triumph | November 22, 2009

60. She Walks in Beauty: George Gordon Byron

Ah, another “Dead Poets Society” poem. Poor Knox.

Recently, I went away for my eleventh anniversary and found Leslie Pockell’s collection “The 100 Bet Love Poems of All Time“. To be honest, I am not a huge poetry fan; I enjoy the analysis and poetry as a jumping off point for larger discussions, but I cannot sit and read poems and find the same enjoyment I might get from reading the back of a shampoo bottle. My wife, though, loves the stuff.

So, there we were in the Bear Pond Books outlet in Stowe, and I stood in front of the poetry shelf (singular) and thought this collection would be fun to read out loud at times during our weekend away from the kids.

Except, it is really packed with a bunch of great poems.

I was expecting, well, Lord Byron and a jumble of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Not so. They are not cheeky or clever, but just good. There is little you have not read or heard before, but as a collection it is just a nice assemblage. I am going to use it quite a bit in the next few weeks. It is available on Google Books and ebooks and a zillion other platforms, but give Ms. Pockell and your local bookstore some support and buy it. It won’t just sit on your classroom shelf.

That said, show the cover to your students. LOVE POEMS! Students who hate poetry really, really hate love poems. Pick well. And push them on the idea of love (vs. lust). Do they not love? Lust? Have them dump the tripe and touch that moment where the self falls away.

As for this poem. Rhyme? Check. Simile? Check. Imagery? Check.

Discuss.

She Walks in Beauty
George Gordon Byron

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!

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