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Lord Byron: She Walks in Beauty

Who has not felt the maddening sensation of falling in love, and had that sweet intoxicating feeling that turns your whole existence upside down? It is like a drug that suffuses you entirely and occupies your mind night and day. And – it may possibly also turn you into a poet.

To hender holder et stort rødt hjerte. Illustrasjon.

Three Love Poems

A Love Letter in the Sand

A Love Letter in the Sand

Love has throughout the ages been the most common theme of poetry, and it still is – just look at most of today’s rock and pop lyrics. The language that works when it comes to describing the strong emotions running through you is poetry. Many love poems are written just to be presented to the loved one, perhaps not even that, and may later be lost and forgotten. But some love poems have survived, firstly, because they so beautifully put into words a situation we all can recognise. Secondly, a love poem speaks to us in a very personal manner; someone invites you to his or her intimate confession – it is as if they are opening a door to their inner and private passion.
The following three poems were written long ago, but that only demonstrates how timeless and universal this theme is; the feelings are the same no matter when the poem was written.

To My Dear and Loving Husband

By Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold
Or the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

She Walks in Beauty

By Lord Byron (1788-1824)

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!

First Love

By John Clare (1793-1864)

I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.

My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.

I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start -
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love’s appeals to know.

I never saw so sweet a face
As that stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.

A Closer Look at the Poems

To My Dear and Loving Husband

  1. What comparisons does she make to describe her love for her husband?
  2. How does she describe this as a divine love?
  3. What makes this poem so personal?
  4. Why do you think this rhyming pattern is called couplets?

She Walks in Beauty

  1. In what respect is this poem different from the other two?
  2. Where does the poem speak of internal as well as exterior beauty?
  3. Comment on the title of the poem.
  4. Where can you spot examples of alliteration in the poem?

First Love

  1. Where does the poem describe the physical symptoms of being in love?
  2. What does it mean that “Words from my eyes did start”?
  3. The heart is a common icon and symbol of love. Where in this poem do you find an indication of why?
  4. Where can you spot examples of alliteration in the poem?

Extra: How do you interpret the illustration?

Sist oppdatert 02.05.2018
Skrevet av Jan-Louis Nagel


Literature from 1780 to 1840