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Molly Franklin J.

Camargo English 2100 4 February 2013 Light, Night, and Beauty The poem, She Walks in Beauty, is a significant display of imagery, figurative language, word arrangement and selection. These devices provide crucial support to the central tension of beauty and light and how the two seem to go hand in hand when describing the beauty of someone or something. The first stanza of this poem creates an initial image for the entire piece. The very first line of the poem, She walks in beauty like the night begins the poem with an instant image of the setting of the poem, darkness or nighttime. The use of the word like indicates a simile in this case, a form of comparison that can be seen in many places among the poem as a mechanism to describe the setting and images that can be seen around the poem. Continued in the next line, line 2, the speaker goes on to elaborate the beauty of the subject by comparing her beauty to not simply a night, but a night / of cloudless climes and starry skies The description of the night as cloudless could imply that the beauty of the woman is obstacle free in that nothing constricts her beauty from the speakers vision just as on a cloudless night, there are no clouds to block the stars from vision (1-2). This line also displays a strong image of the night and light in which he envisions the subject in, definitely dark, but lit slightly with the beautiful night stars. The following lines, 3 and 4, continue to elaborate on the beauty of the woman and her surroundings by using adjectives like tender light, heaven, and gaudy night. Again, the words tender light seem to paint the same picture of a very gentle light such

Franklin 2 as the night sky lit by the thousands of stars (5). The use of these particular words and phrases help to define the theme of beauty in the text. It is the second stanza that seems to begin an in depth description of her features. The use of the word grace in line 8 leads the reader to think of a well-balanced and poised woman, one that is not clumsy. Line 8 describes the womans hair with words like waves and raven tresses which could infer that the womans hair is quite long, long enough to have beautiful waves in every rare clump. The woman is also described to have bright and sweet or genuine face through the words softly lightens and serenely sweet express (9-10). It can also be inferred by the words pure and dear that the speaker can tell through her beautiful appearance that she is an honest woman that has yet to be corrupted (12). The last stanza seems to again focus on creating an image of the physical aspects of the womans beauty. The mention of the cheek and the brow, line 13, and the use of words like calm, soft, and eloquent could mean that her facial features are not what would be considered sharp or harsh today but are still the upmost amount of beauty (13-14). The smiles that win, the tints that glow is an example of using figurative language to create an image of the womans smile, energetic and victorious as an athletes after a big win as well as an image of the womans facial skin in a bright tint such that it almost seems to glow (16). The last two lines of the poem, a mind at peace with all below, / a heart whose love is innocent, instill an image of age within the woman as well as an image of youth within the woman (17-18). Line 17 could easily be another way of stating that the woman has lived through many experiences and her face shows it, perhaps through features like crows feet or dark circles around her eyes. Line 18 supports this by describing her heart and love as innocent, implying that although she has aged, she is still young through her love and memories at heart and her expression displays this.

Franklin 3 The second prominent device used by the authors is that of precise word selection and arrangement. Starting with the title of the poem, it can be seen that the poem is written in the present tense by the use of the word walks. This is significant because it signifies that the womans beauty is still alive. The idea of the present tense can be seen all through the poem in with the use of the following words: walks, thats, meets, denies, waves, dwelling, tells (1-18). The conscious use and consistency of the present tense is extremely important because it does portray life through the speaker. It makes the reader or audience know that the woman and her beauty still exist and allows the reader to take that information in whatever way he or she so chooses. If the poem were written in past tense or future tense, the entire dynamic of the poem would be significantly different. The next notable aspect of the word choice and arrangement is the rhyme scheme as well as the order of the words used to allow the rhyme scheme. This poem is written in a simple rhyme scheme of ababab cdcdcd efefef. The simplicity of this particular rhymes scheme makes it easy to recognize making the poem more effective. The arrangement of the words along each line prior to the end word with the rhyme are crucial to the understandability of the actual content of the poem. In many poems, it tends to be necessary for the reader to rethink the order of the words in order to decipher the poem, but that is not the case for this particular poem. For example, the first two lines read, She walks in beauty like the night/ of cloudless climes and starry skies (1-2). Aside from the possibility of lacking the knowledge of the meaning of a few words simply because they are much less used in current times, these two lines read extremely well. There is a clear subject, verb, and preposition to form a complete, logic, and grammatically correct thought.

Franklin 4 The last major device used to support the central tension of this poem is that of figurative language. This can be seen starting from the very first line of the poem in the form of a simile. She walks in beauty like the night/ of cloudless climes and starry night (1-2). The use of the word like lets the reader know that a comparison is coming. This allows a more creative and open-ended response for the reader. Rather than just stating that the woman walks in beauty, the writers add a feel of a deeply extravagant night. The mention of the sky at the end of line 2 could also be an allusion to heaven in that the sky is generally thought of as a heavenly place which could lead one to the conclusion that the speaker feels that the womans beauty is heavenly or out of this world. The following lines, 3 through 5, continue to elaborate on the beauty of the woman by contrasting dark and bright and stating that the woman is the best of each which is clearly an exaggeration (3). The speaker uses creative language to describe her beauty with phrases like all thats best of dark and bright and one shade the more, one ray the less, which can be found in line 7. This contrast could be the reader trying to explain how impossible the beauty of this woman seems, almost that it is too good to be true. The speaker wants everyone to know that her beauty is perfect and amazing in all forms but also fragile to the lighting. The speaker recognizes that the woman may not seem quite as beautiful during the day or at a darker period of night when the moon and stars are no longer visible. This theory can also be supported by line 5 where the speaker describes the light as tender and mellowd which neither heaven nor gaudy day can permit. The poem She Walks in Beauty is extremely supportive of the central tension of beauty and light with the specific devices of imagery, word arrangement and selection, as well as figurative language and all of the sub-devices that fall under each. The use of all of these devices makes the poem successful as a whole.

Franklin 5 Works Cited Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 7th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004. Print.