She Walks in Beauty
She Walks in Beauty
by George Gordon, Lord Byron
Advertisement
group rates for schools and districts
ADVERTISEMENT

Raven Hair

Symbol Analysis

It's important to note that the beautiful woman is a brunette. What's so special about that, you ask? Well, in Byron's day, conventional English beauties were all pale and blonde. So for him to write a poem that not only praises the beauty of a woman with "raven" (black) hair, but even goes so far as to say that real beauty requires a contrast of light and dark, or day and night, was pretty startling.

  • Line 7: This line points out that the woman's beauty is a perfect balance of light and dark – if she were any darker ("one shade the more"), the harmony would get messed up. The line itself is perfectly balanced between opposites: "shade" and "ray," "more" and "less." But if you think about it, the two halves of the line say the same thing: "one shade the more" means, "if she were any darker." But "one ray the less" also means, "if she were any darker." It's like saying, "heads I win, tails you lose" – it sounds like you're saying two opposite things but, really, the meaning of both is the same.
  • Line 9: We're so used to hearing dark hair described as "raven" that it's almost a cliché, but it's actually a metaphor.