La Belle Dame sans Merci Questions and Answers
by John Keats

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What is the summary of "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"?

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According to the speaker, everything looks more dreary now that it is autumn and the harvest is complete.  The speaker describes the knight as pale and tired, almost to the point of being physically sick from the "fever" of "anguish."  Suddenly, the knight speaks, revealing that he has met a beautiful "fairy child" and made adornments for her to wear.  The speaker sits the "fairy child" on his horse while she sings fairy songs all day.  The it is the fairy child's turn to give in return.  She gives him "roots," "honey," and "manna" before professing her love.  The "fairy child" took the knight to her "elfin grot," or her home, and cried while the knight tried to dry her tears with his kisses.  She lulls the knight to sleep while the knight dreams of rulers as pale as death who warn him with their cry: "La Belle Dame Sans Merci / Hath thee in thrall."  In other words, the lovely lady without pity or mercy has the knight in her grasp.  The knight ends by repeating that this is why he is here on the cold hillside telling us this story.  Thus, the poem comes full-circle.

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