Form, structure and language

Form

The poem is a lyric, both in its poetic form and in the sense that the words were written to accompany a piece of music.

Structure

The poem has three stanzas, each consisting of six lines. The rhyme scheme is regular and follows the pattern ababab. The rhythm of the poem is highly regular. This consistent rhythm emphasises the regularity of the subject’s walk but also her faultless perfection. Working against this rhythm, Byron makes much use of enjambment. It is almost as though the speaker cannot pause for breath in trying to tell the reader about how beautiful this woman is.

Language

A starry night in the mountains
'Of cloudless climes and starry skies' is an example of alliteration

The poet uses rich and varied language which draws attention to itself through literary devices such as alliteration and assonance. For instance, in the first stanza there are two examples of alliteration in the second line (‘Of cloudless climes and starry skies’) while a pattern of assonance weaves around this (the ‘i’ sounds of: ‘night’, ‘climes’, ‘skies’, ‘bright’, 'eyes', ‘light’ and ‘denies’). All but one of these words is brought to the reader’s attention by being placed at the ends of the lines.

Antithesis is used on a number of occasions eg ‘One shade the more, one ray the less’. In this line 'shade' is contrasted with 'ray' and 'more' with 'less'. This repeated use of opposites may highlight the confusion in the speaker’s mind as he tries to come to terms with trying to describe the woman’s overpowering attractiveness – something which is basically beyond words.