SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
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.
- Lord George Gordon Byron, 1780
I have always loved the opening lines of Lord Byron's poem. There is something tenable in the honest praise of the words "She walks in beauty." We best impress when we inhabit those qualities we most value. Walk within virtues both given to us and borrowed, appreciated by others or rough-cut and unknown. These qualities that draw others to us are as natural and pure and principled as the stars in the sky.
I believe romantic love is the opening toast of a lifelong dance. Like beauty, the first blush of love is akin to bubbles of champagne that break on our tongues, the heady intoxication of light and delight. Without love's first romantic bliss, the tempered partnership of weathered marriage, while perhaps strong and steady and solid to its core, will still forever lack "The Story That Would Be Us." The tale we tell ourselves and our children of how we came to be. Marriage without that first breath-taking kiss begins as an arrangement of eyes cast elsewhere. A union, but not a transformation.
So here's to romantic love. To the blush and the confusion, the yearning and its bliss. The winters that follow are a steady long pull. But let us not forget to dance. May all the brides and grooms of summer waltz carefree, may Princess Diana's love smile on her son as he steps into his future, and may Kate be praised for the courage to follow her heart. For within the heart's folly lie the seeds of a good life.