Explore Narrative Voice and Tone in La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

Topics: Poetry, John Keats, Knight Pages: 2 (498 words) Published: April 7, 2013
Explore narrative voice and tone in La belle dame sans merci La belle dame sans merci is a ballad written by poet John Keats in a medieval age, it is induldged in a theme of knights, fairies and witches. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is in the form of a dialogue between two speakers. The first is the unnamed speaker who comes across a sick, sad knight and pesters him with questions for the first three stanzas. Stanzas 4-12 are the knight's response. There aren't any quotation marks to tip you off to the change in speaker, so you have to pay attention to notice that the "I" of stanzas 4-12 is different from the "I" of stanzas 1-3. The setting of the poem is interesting. There is a strong contrast, From the dark and sinister ambience of the sick and dying knight to the happy and playful atmosphere of the fairy, stanza 1 shows a dark mood for instance: ‘’ O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.’’
As for stanza 7, it is a much more soothing and caring tone: ‘’She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.’’
The poem also has a an irrational tone to it. When the knight describes the fairy, it is in a quite dreamy and imagination-like way, ‘’gull beautiful-faery’s child, her hair was long, her foot was light,and her eyes were wild.’’ It’s almost in a fantasy and Too-good-to-be-true description. This could imply that knight might not actually be lucid but rather in a dream state drawn from his sickness. The speech, narration in the poem is also intriguing, There are two speakers but what kind of speaker is the unnamed person who finds the knight? Is it supposed to be the poet himself? Or is it supposed to be the reader? Or an anonymous passerby? We don't know a lot about the speaker, but we can make some guesses based on what he says in those first three stanzas. Whoever it is, he uses old-fashioned...
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