La Belle Dame Sand Merci



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This woman could be anything as she could also just be a creation of the knight’s imagination, of what he wants to see, and this could possibly create confusion in the reader’s mind. She is described by the title as a exquisite yet fatal woman without mercy. This lady’s mysteriosity is as ambiguous as the poem itself. He talks about what they did together, the ‘ garlend’ he made ‘for her hair’, and they way ‘she look’d at me as if she did love’. He says that she told him that she loved him and took him to her ‘elfin groth’. They were both filled with passion. There, he slept and in his sleep he had a dream.

Keats also names the ‘steed`, thus introducing a symbol of sexuality showing the physically attraction between the two. At this point it seems to be a relationship where the lovers seems to offer an equal sense of protection, where emotions are mutual. He dreamt of ‘pale kings and princes’, and ‘pale warriors’. They all cried ‘ La Belle Dame Sans Merci’. The kings, princes and warriors may show that the lady likes class since they were all humans of a high class. They may be the ‘faery’s child’s’ past lovers whom she has destructed completely as she attracted them into a fatal trap.

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They all had ‘starv’d lips’ and were rather chilling to see. Their paleness associates them with death, just like the knight. The woman’s aim was to suck out the knight’s passion, feeling and sexuality, drenching him completely of his vital energy. He is absorbed and consumed by the lady. In his dream he finds himself in a region of death, where he has been seduced into a trap by this mysterious lady. As he woke from his dream, where he dreamt about the ‘cold hill’s side’, and he finds himself there giving a chilling vibe to the knight. The poem is just a whole mystery and so is the lady.

It is hard to understand the unimaginable or the unnatural, and dream and reality seem to collide and create confusion in the knight’s head, together with that of the reader. This poem is a ballad with a typical rhyme scheme of A-B-C-B. A ballad is a narrative poem and in fact in this poem we are being told the story of this night and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. There are different narrative levels which increases the difficulty for the reader to understand what is going on yet it increases the sense of mystery which is very adequate to the main theme of the poem.

This poem is full of questions however this increases once again the sense of vagueness. An alliteration on the letter ‘i’ can be founding lines 1 and 2. There is as well use of sound, soothing sounds which give the impression of a lullaby. There is the application of phrasing and repetition which is a characteristic of ballads. The poet shows an emphasis on the use of musicality, like an incantation with a magical touch. This relaxing rhythm may also be a symbol of the supernatural. Keats uses an archaic kind-of language to give a better idea about the plot being set in a sort of Medieval fairy time in the past.

The poet does not comment throughout the poem about what happens, and he does not interpret it, making it more perplex and ambiguous, and simultaneously interesting and captivating. The beauty of this poem lies in the mystery with which it attracts its reader. It is a very entrancing and appealing poem as its mystery give it a certain enhancing and yet mystical effect on me as a reader giving me a greater desire to explore the unknown view of this poem and it gives the opportunity to different views and explanations to what is going on which accumulates even more mystery within the poem.

It may be seen as a gateway to the childhood in our hearts, a time when we thought that everything is possible. But after all, ‘all that we have see or seen is but a dream in a dream’ and so may all that we read in this poem be just a dream which may develop our sense of imagination and give us the opportunity to create a fantastical world of our own in our minds.

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