How are these two poems linked to love and what are the similarities and differences between the poems "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and "Remember"?
Remember is by Christian Rossetti
La Belle Dame sans Merci is by John Keats
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"La Belle Dame sans Merci" and "Remember" both have the motif of the impermanence of love and beauty. And, in a sense Rossetti's poem could very well possess the same title as that of Keats's verses. His title, "La Belle Dame sans Merci"--without thanks-- is also the speaker of Rossetti's "Remembrance." For, she seems ambivalent in her feelings and not so grateful for love:
Better by far you should forget and smile/Than that you should remember and be sad.
Like "La Belle Dame" of the knight's dream who is not as passionate in her feelings for the knight as he is for her, Rossetti's speaker confesses that she may not be as passionately in love as her paramour: "Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay."
Certainly, this tension between the ephemeral and the eternal, between beauty and its impermance is evident in both poems. When the knight awakens and finds himself alone on the cold hillside, he "loiters" although beauty has departed with the fertility of the land: "the sedge has withered from the lake/And no birds sing." Likewise, the tension in Rossetti's poem is between beauty and death:
Yet, if you should forget me for a while/And afterwards remember, do not grieve:/For if the darkness and corruption leave/A vestige of the thoughts that once I had/Better by far you should forget and smile/Than that you should remember and be sad.
While Keats's speaker metaphysically contemplates an ideal--beauty--and its impermanence, Rossetti's speaker is philosophical about the ambivalence and impermanence of love.
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