Analysis of Keats' Captivating and Dismal Ballad "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"

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John Keats is a spell binding poet, who lived a short life of 25 years, but left behind a towering legacy in the Romantic period. His work “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” is an imaginative masterpiece written in 1819, which was near his death in 1821. During the time he wrote the ballad, his brother died of tuberculosis; an ailment that swept over many members of his family, including him. He also became devoted to young woman, Fanny Brawne, but struggled with his continuous meager ownerships. The time of darkness, disease, and depression were close reflected in the ballad, where love and death both reign as did in his personal life. The central idea in the writing was risking everything for a pleasure that can be intoxicating, and can aid in …show more content…
The landscape makes a statement that frames the question and announces a world of depleted vitality, no longer productive of any harvest (Wolfson 297). The tone is somber and sorrowful; achieved through foreboding words, and strange mystical appearances. The ballad is structured like a dialogue between a speaker who poses questions from observation, and a knight who provides murky answers. The first speaker that glides in during the first three stanzas, appearing to be a stranger to this sudden ailed knight-at-arms. This stranger becomes the provider of a description of another being, the knight, whose condition is “haggard, and loitering.” The use of these words suggests at posterior events. The etymology of “haggard” suggests a wild or intractable person, leading later in the poem to a wild eyed woman (Murry 82).The interrogative voice of the stranger is arrested by a strange impression reflecting the speaker’s uncertainty of the strange sights at present (Almeida 295). This questioning voice appears to be the only sign of energy in the surroundings. The question clearly remains why a knight is stumbling in an autumn setting, appearing alone, and not on a quest?
The knight is the other speaker in the ballad, who answers to the stranger on his worn appearance and deathly complexion. It’s described that he has a “lily on thy brow,” a sign of death; along with being “moist and fever-dew,” all signs of sickness.
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