Romanticism Style in “La Belle Dame sans Merci”
The Romantic period in Literature is believed to have begun in 1798 when Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth published a book of poems called “Lyrical Ballads”. Romantic writers “emphasized imagination and emotion” (Romanticism 457). Romantic writers use medieval subjects and settings in their writings. “The love theme explores dreams of heterosexual bliss, but it also moves into the appropriate relationships to be had with art and nature” (Matlak 1771). John Keats is included in the second generation of English romantics. Keats is known as the youngest of English romantic poets. John Keats “greatest poems –‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, the six magnificent odes, ‘Lamia’; some of his finest sonnets—were written between January and September of 1819 when his remarkable poetic genius had just began to realize itself” (Romanticism 470). “Romantic poets are famous for describing the world as a subjective experience, one in which the important things happen to the human heart” (Kelly 26). The poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci” proves John Keats was a romantic poet. “One of the most notable things about John Keats’s ballad ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ is the sly way it presents one of the key issues of romantic philosophy” (Kelly 24).
The characters in the poem show romantic qualities. The “knight-at-arms / alone and palely loitering” and “a lady in the meads / full beautiful – a fairy child” show ideas of romanticism by using medieval creatures (Keats 1&2, 13&14). “it is a fairy standard conceit in romanticism to identify love as a part of internal self, as more a matter of one persons mind than as meeting two” (Kelly 25). The characters during the knights’ dream are also medieval creatures, “I saw pale kings and princes too / pale warriors, death – pale were they all” (Keats 37-38).
The settings in the poem also show romantic characteristics. In the beginning of the poem it is morning, which represents that a new day...
Cited: Keats, John. “La Belle Dame sans Merci”. Ed. Kathleen Daniel. Atlanta: Holt, Rinehart,
And Winston, 2000.
Kelly, David. Poetry for Students. Ed. David Galens. Vol. 17. Detroit. Thompson Gale.
2003. pgs. 17-36.
Matlak, Richard. Critical Survey of Poetry. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Vol. 4. New Jersey.
Salem Press. 1992. pgs. 1769-1786.
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