La Belle Dame Sans Merci- Analysis

Topics: Poetry, La Belle Dame sans Merci, Stanza Pages: 3 (996 words) Published: September 7, 2013
Fact sheet: La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats

This poem is about an ill knight, who is found by an anonymous person and asked why he is loitering in this withering place (stanzas 1-3). Then the knight tells his sad love story about a lady he once met in the meads and with who he instantly fell in love with. She took him to her grotto and revealed therefore her fairy origin. She fed him and talked in an incomprehensible language (stanzas 4-8). She lulled him asleep and he had a horrible nightmare, where loads of death-pale noblemen appeared. All were warning him from “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” (stanzas 9-11). The poem ends how it started, the knight lies close to a lake even though no life is around (stanza 12).

Formal understanding
FormBallad with 12 stanzas of 4 lines
Rhyme schemea-b-c-a
The first three lines have generally eight or nine syllables but the last line has only four or five syllables. ToneMelancholic, dramatic, love-sick, mysterious
LanguageSimple Early Modern English, very descriptive
Sentence structureThere are only a few verbs but a various number of modifiers. Sometimes the sentence structure is slightly inverse:
e.g.“And there I shut her wild, wild eyes with kisses four.”(8th stnz.) ModifiersMany modifiers express sadness or illness:
e.g. haggard, ail, pale, cold, woe-begone, starved
Many modifiers express opulently nature and beauty:
e.g. beautiful, full, sweet, elfin, wild
NounsMany nouns refer to nature:
e.g. sedge, lake, gravery, harvest, bird, lily, dew, roots, manna Body parts are often mentioned too:
e.g. brow, cheeks, hair, foot, eyes, lips, head
VerbsThe few verbs are often describing sound making and vision: e.g. sing, say, sigh, cry, see, look at, gaze
MoodThe ballad has a quite heavy and dramatic mood as it descriptive and detailed. The mood is melancholic as the nature is withering towards autumn; the knight is dying and remembers the past in a sad but glorious way. The poem has also a...
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