3 Assignments TPCASTT WORKSHEET, POETRY
EXPLICATION, AND SECONDARY SOURCE
Title – Ponder the title
before reading the
Paraphrase – Translate
the poem into your own
ConnotationContemplate the poem
beyond the literal
Attitude – Observe
both the poet and the
speaker’s attitude or
Shifts – Note the shifts
in speakers, attitude,
Title – Examine the title
again, this time on an
Theme – Determine
what the poet is
saying. What is the
central message or
purpose of the poem?
Summary of Secondary Source Renaissance Poetry
Due Apr 11 by 11:59pm
Submitting a file upload
You are to write a thorough summary of the secondary source of your choice. You will choose the
source that corresponds with the poem you have chosen.
Make sure that you use proper MLA formatting, including a heading, title, and page numbers.
You should also include a full citation of the article before you begin your summary. If you quote
lines or paraphrase a specific portion of the article, make sure that you correctly cite it with in-text
Reisman, Rosemary M. Canfield. "She Walks In Beauty." Masterplots II: Poetry,
Revised Edition (2002): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
“She Walks in Beauty” is a short poem, consisting of three six-line stanzas. On the
surface it is a fairly conventional description of a beautiful woman, evidently someone
with whom Byron is acquainted. The poet does not identify her by name, indicate his
relationship to her, or hint as to the occasion that brought them together. (Scholars have
ferreted out these matters.) Even if such information is not essential to understanding the
poem, it is surprising that Byron provides so little concrete detail about the actual
appearance of the woman he is describing. He does not speak of her as tall or short,
slender or statuesque; he does not tell his readers the color of her dress or the color of her
eyes. In fact, at the end of the poem the only specific fact the reader knows is that she has
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the lady has made a definite impression on the poet.
To him, she is beautiful in the same way that “night” is beautiful, and, as he hastens to
add, he means a particular kind of night, one of “cloudless climes and starry skies.” There
is no threat of a storm in this imagined landscape; there are no clouds to produce even a
shower. Such a night is not really dark, for, as readers are told, the sky is filled with stars.
Their light is soft and subdued; similarly, the dark lady has “tender” eyes, as unlike those
of less subtle women as the light of a “starry” night is from that of “gaudy day.”
Byron proceeds to amplify his earlier suggestion that a perfect combination of “dark and
bright” is the secret of his subject’s beauty. The second stanza of the poem begins with
an explicit statement to this effect: either more or less light, he insists, would have at least
to some degree “impair’d” her “grace.” At this point, the poet finally gives his readers a
clue as to what may have triggered his response, for it appears that the lady does have
“raven” hair. However, Byron does not have so specific an explanation for the brightness
of “her face.” He does not seem to mean that she has a rosy complexion; instead, it is her
“thoughts serenely sweet,” so evident in her facial expressions, that account for the
impression she makes on all those who observe her.
In the final stanza, Byron continues to explore the relationship between inner and outer
beauty. The blushes that appear on the lady’s “cheek,” her “smiles,” everything on her
“brow,” or countenance, all reveal her sterling virtue. In the last lines of the poem, Byron
sums up what he surmises: that the lady spends much of her time doing good deeds, that
her “mind” harbors no animosity toward anyone, and that when love enters her heart, it is
an “innocent” emotion. Byron’s description of a dark-haired lady thus becomes much
more: It is also his definition of the ideal woman.
Forms and Devices
Though Byron may have rebelled against tradition in other ways, his poems are generally
conventional in form. “She Walks in Beauty” is no exception. It is written in standard
iambic tetrameter, with alternating rhymes, a new set in each stanza. Metrically, the poem
is quite predictable; there are none of the lilting anapestic variations so familiar in
Byron’s other works, but stately measures are appropriate for a woman who is herself so
decorous. The masculine line endings and the use of end-stopped lines, alternating with
lines which necessitate a pause, recall the neoclassical heroic couplet, a form Byron
much admired. However, here there is no satire nor epigrammatic wit; instead, the
purpose of the form is to ensure the slow progress of the poem, thus emphasizing the
lady’s dignity, her steadiness, and her self-control.
The poem is also interesting in the degree to which it is dominated by a single simile.
Although after the first stanza the poet abandons explicit references to the night,
throughout the poem he emphasizes the idea of perfect balance, not only between dark
and light but also between thought and action, mind and heart.
Nevertheless, though “She Walks in Beauty” praises harmony, it has other implications
as well, reminding one that, for all his neoclassical dedication to form and balance,
Byron was, after all, a Romantic. To a degree, the images work to deny the poet’s explicit
statements, for although the pace of the poem is in keeping with its praise of tranquillity,
its images stress movement and therefore the inevitability of change. Byron’s lady is not
posing, but walking. She is shown in motion, her hair waving, her “eloquent” face
expressive as she responds to the world around her and to her own thoughts —
sometimes with smiles, sometimes with blushes. These small alterations imply that just as
the stars will move in the night sky and night itself turn to day, the lady will change. Only
in the poem will she remain forever lovely and innocent.
Themes and Meanings
Byron’s biographers agree about the occasion that inspired the poem. On June 11, 1814,
Byron is said to have attended a party, perhaps a ball, at the home of a Lady Sitwell, and
there to have seen for the first time his young cousin by marriage, Mrs. Robert John
Wilmot, dressed in a black mourning dress adorned with spangles. Supposedly Byron
wrote “She Walks in Beauty” either the same night or early the next morning.
If the account of Mrs. Wilmot’s gown is accurate, it is easy to see why Byron thought of
a starry night when he looked at the young beauty. Moreover, though death is not
actually mentioned in “She Walks in Beauty,” the fact that the lady’s dark clothing was a
token of mourning makes it likely that the conventional association of night and death
was in Byron’s mind as he wrote the poem.
This interpretation also helps to explain why Byron included the poem in the volume
Hebrew Melodies. One of Byron’s friends had suggested that the poet and a young
composer, Isaac Nathan, collaborate in producing a volume of songs in the Hebrew folk
tradition, and Byron agreed to work with Nathan on the collection. For that reason, a
great many of the lyrics that Byron wrote take as their subject matter characters and
stories from the Old Testament. Byron not only included “She Walks in Beauty” in the
volume but also made a point of asking Nathan to have it appear first in every edition of
Hebrew Melodies. The most obvious explanation is that Byron usually placed what he
considered his best poem in a collection first. Since “She Walks in Beauty” is one of
Byron’s most anthologized poems, evidently in this case the poet’s judgment was
There may also be a thematic justification for Byron’s using “She Walks in Beauty” to
introduce Hebrew Melodies. Certainly it is the depiction of an ideal woman. One has only
to look at the modifiers to see why this woman would be so easy to live with: “tender,”
“softly,” “serenely,” “sweet,” “pure,” “soft,” and “calm.” It is, however, significant that
the final word of the poem is “innocent.” Byron’s ideal may be viewed as a portrait of
Eve before the Fall, appropriately placed first here, as it is in the Old Testament.
“She Walks in Beauty” is one of the few optimistic lyrics in Hebrew Melodies. The later
poems show human beings as fallen creatures in a fallen world. What scant hope there is
may come through art. For example, in the second poem in the collection, “The Harp the
Monarch Minstrel Swept,” King David’s songs elevate humanity above its fallen
condition. However, generally life is shown as essentially tragic and probably
meaningless. In “Jephtha’s Daughter,” an innocent young woman is forced into
martyrdom. In “All Is Vanity, Saith the Preacher,” it is asserted that even poetry is
helpless against despair.
Any discussion of the meaning of “She Walks in Beauty” should also point out how
inconsistent Byron’s admiration of the woman is with his own Romantic tendencies. This
ideal woman has the neoclassical virtues of reason, moderation, and self-control. By
contrast, Romantics value feeling above reason. Byron usually shows rebellion as proof
of intellectual independence, excess as a road to truth, and passion as an indication that
one is truly alive. Considering the rest of his works, as well as his life, it is ironic that
Byron was so drawn to the virtuous lady he describes in “She Walks in Beauty.” On the
other hand, it is only human to value that which one has lost and which, unfortunately,
will probably not long survive in this fallen world.
Essay by: Rosemary M. Canfield Reisman
Overview: TPCASTT, Poetry Explication, and Secondary
This week you will continue your work with poetry analysis by completing another TPCASTT
worksheet for a poem from the Romantic period. If you did not watch the lecture series from last
week, it would be a good idea to do that now. If you watched it but still feel uncertain, it would be
a good idea to watch it again. In fact, it is possible to complete your own TPCASTT worksheet as
the author takes you through the process. You can simply pause the video as you complete your
Please upload your worksheet to the proper assignment in this module.
This lecture will help you continue to understand how to properly analyze a poem. In this video
the speaker gives an overview of common literary devices and terminology. She does
mispronounce synecdoche though. For your future use of the word, it is pronounced sin-ek-doekey.
Here is a copy of the link: Link (Links to an external site.)
Remember that you want to choose a poem that shares the SAME theme as the poem you
choose last week. You will be looking at that theme through a different historical lens, however.
Rather than seeing it from the perspective of a Renaissance poet, you’ll be considering it through
the eyes of a Romantic poet. The traits of Romanticism are different from the Renaissance
Rather than writing a summary this week, you are going to go to the next level and writing a
poetry explication. This assignment is getting you one step closer to writing your final literary
analysis on these three periods of British poetry. Writing a poetry explication is very different than
writing a summary because you are actually analyzing the poem. When you write an explication,
you want to do the following:
1. The first paragraph should present the large issues; it should inform the reader which conflicts
are dramatized and should describe the dramatic situation of the speaker. The explication does
not require a formal introductory paragraph; the writer should simply start explicating immediately.
The foolproof way to begin any explication is with the following sentence: “This poem dramatizes
the conflict between …” Such a beginning ensures that you will introduce the major conflict or
theme in the poem and organize your explication accordingly.
2. The next paragraphs should expand the discussion of the conflict by focusing on details
of vocabulary, literary devices, words/phrases that point to to emotions, etc. In short, this
information comes from the portion of your TPCASTT worksheet that applies to connotation. You
should interpret those devices/techniques that you include there in this portion of the explication.
3. The explication has no formal concluding paragraph; do not simply restate the main points of
the introduction! The end of the explication should focus on the tone of the poem, which is the
next portion of your TPCASTT worksheet. Without a thorough analysis of the connotation, there
is no way to address the tone. Make sure that you look at the portion of the handout that includes
tone words so that you can use those as you discuss the author’s tone. Remember, tone is the
author’s ATTITUDE about that which he’s writing. TONE is not the same thing as MOOD. Mood
is the atmosphere/feeling conveyed within the poem. Do not get them confused.
Finally, make sure your explication is in proper MLA format. That includes a heading, title, and
Tips to keep in mind:
1. Refer to the speaking voice in the poem as "the speaker” or “the poet.” For example, do
not write, “In this poem, Wordsworth says that London is beautiful in the morning.” However,
you can write, “In this poem, Wordsworth presents a speaker who…” We cannot absolutely
identify Wordsworth with the speaker of the poem, so it is more accurate to talk about “the
speaker” or “the poet” in an explication.
2. Use the present tense when writing the explication. The poem, as a work of literature,
continues to exist!
3. To avoid unnecessary uses of the verb “to be” in your compositions, the following list
suggests some verbs you can use when writing the explication:
Here is a sample poetry explication to give you a visual of what you’re trying to
accomplish: Sample Poetry Explication.pdf
Your final assignment for this week will be to write another summary for a secondary source.