La Belle Dame Sans Merci Explanation

2230 WordsSep 11, 20129 Pages
`La Belle Dame sans Merci" or "The Beautiful Lady without Pity" is the title of an early fifteenth-century French poem by Alain Chartier which belongs to the tradition of courtly love. Keats appropriates this phrase for a ballad which has been generally read as the story of a seductive and treacherous woman who tempts men away from the real world and then leaves them, their dreams unfulfilled and their lives blighted. For all the beguiling simplicity of the surfaces of this literary ballad, it is one of the most difficult of Keats's poems to explain, and open to many interpretations. It has been alternately suggested, for example, that it is about the wasting power of sexual love and / or the poet's infatuation with his muse. This…show more content…
In succumbing to his desire to withdraw from the duties and responsibilities of the former into the luxurious pleasures of the latter he has undermined the definitions and assigned roles of male and female. Now neither is open to him; he is in limbo. A reading such as given above would fit well with Keats's general ambivalence concerning romance and the bower. Would it further illuminate such figures as the serpent woman `Lamia' and the `Fair plumed Syren' Romance in `On sitting down to Read King Lean once again"? Q. The sedge has withered from the lake” What is its significance? A. The grass has dried up from the lake. It signifies that the youthfulness, vigor and vitality of the knight has departed. It symbolizes that winter has set in. Q. Why did no bird sing? A. Birds don’t sing because the green energy of the lake has lost its charm. The winter has set in. Birds have gone to take shelter in their nests. It signifies that the knight has lost the melody of life and the rhythm has broken. Q. What did the knight look like? A. The knight looked ill, pale, tired(haggard) and sorrowful(woe-begone). Q. The reference to the ‘squirrel’s granary’ and ‘the harvest’ is deliberate. Do you think so? A. It is suggestive of the winter cold as the squirrel fills up its granary before hibernating and the harvest is also ripe. It symbolizes the dearth of joy in knight’s life. Q. Who is
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