A number of unifying ideas or themes run through the poem. Different readers may attach more or less significance to each of these themes, depending upon how they view the poem.
|Appearance: Byron avoids conventional symbols to describe the subject’s beauty, eg flowers or a sunny summer’s day. It is a less conventional appearance that is described.||‘the nameless grace/ Which waves in every raven tress’||The woman is a raven-haired beauty. The word ‘raven’ perhaps gives her a darker aspect as it is traditionally associated with a bird of bad omen.|
|Light: there are several references to day- and night-time, to aspects of the natural world which create light (stars) and to an inner light or radiance.||‘And all that’s best of dark and bright/ Meet in her aspect and her eyes’||The best features of light and its antithesis (opposite), darkness, meet to form something even greater in the subject’s extraordinary beauty. It is especially noticeable in her eyes.|
|A sense of wonder: the speaker’s sense of wonder is not directly expressed but comes from the nature of the comparisons he makes between the woman and aspects of the natural world.||'She walks in beauty, like the night/ Of cloudless climes and starry skies'||In the opening two lines the poet uses a simile (a comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as’ to create a vivid image) to compare the subject’s beauty to something vast, uncontained and almost unimaginable.|
How does Byron demonstrate the power of the woman’s beauty?