Wednesday, June 13, 2007

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

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!
--Lord Byron

I don't know much about Lord Byron. What Ido know comes from two sources which, though I wouldn't call them especially reliable in the specific, do try to portray at least the public image of historical characters accurately. The first was in the Highlander TV series episode The Modern Prometheus in which he's shown as one of the immortals drinking and debauching his way through history till in modern times he's shown as a rockstar that is constantly high on something, but never happy.

The other is in the book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (and by the way, if you haven't yet read this book, it's well worth it -- click on the link to get Amazon's summary and reviews). The novel's hero spends some time travelling in the fashionable circles of the English continental Europe, and becomes friendly with Byron and his friends -- a little to friendly for the taste of some of his other friends and acquaintances who wish he would be a little more discreet.

So anyway, I have an image in my head of somebody sort of like the moviestars types of today -- going to parties and getting involved in various scandals, and occasionally making great art. Wikipedia says I'm pretty much right: "Lord Byron's fame rests not only on his writings but also on his life, which featured extravagant living, numerous love affairs, debts, separation, etc. He was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know.' "

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