My age results in a great deal of reflection, some of which I actually enjoy, as I did when I saw this poem in my reading today.
I took a year-long class of chorus in high school, taught by Mrs. Betty Faulkner. She thought I was a bit off key when I had to sing alone my part in front of her for my grade, (I was scared shitless, so that’s probably true) and too chatty (for sure true!). Another truth was that I didn’t really appreciate her or the songs she chose for us to learn, until later years. Thanks to Mrs. Faulkner, I learned lovely pieces of literature I otherwise would not have learned—old spirituals, hymns, and poems like this. This poem made me look up Alfred, Lord Byron to see what kind of person he was. Oh, he was a bit naughty and lover of quite a few! For awhile, in my excusable youth, I thought his middle name was Lord.
Re-reading this poem today, I have to say he was speaking of more than corporeal beauty; he was also speaking of the beauty within. His words reminded me of my step-daughter, Kathy, who is beautiful both inside and out.
Betty’s opinion of my voice didn’t stop me from singing for myself or others, though. I wished she could have seen me the year I played and sang Nancy in Oliver. I think she would have been proud, and maybe changed my grade.
She Walks in Beauty
by Lord Byron
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 mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d 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!