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!
– George Gordon (Lord Byron)
I discovered She Walks In Beauty when I was in high school. I still know all the words to the thing today. I somehow still end up speaking the poem, under my breath, at random times. In the bus to work. On the plane at takeoff. Walking down a random street somewhere in the world. While having coffee.
It’s not just the subject matter that speaks to me, but the mood and the cadence of the words. When I don’t speak it myself, it plays in my head with the voice of Ron Perlman. It’s probably overused at this point, but it’s pretty much my favorite poem, ahead of a bunch of Shakespeare’s sonnets.