La Belle Dame sans Merci Questions and Answers
by John Keats

Start Your Free Trial

Write a critical appreciation for the poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by John Keats.

Expert Answers info

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Keats wrote the poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" about a knight that has been taken in by the love of a "capricious" fairy. His love is full and true, but the fairy is not interested in this and leaves the knight, where he continues to wait for her to return. Though all signs point to the knight's ill-fate in pursuing his feelings, the knight's devotion never wavers.

Some readers maintain that the poem is really about Keats’s confused feelings for Fanny Brawne...Others claim the story is symbolic of the plight of the artist, who, having “fallen in love” with beauty, can never fully accept the mundane. 

Regardless of one's perception, the knight is beyond saving. One source notes that the more one loves, the more disappointing the rest of the world becomes.

An unidentified speaker approaches the knight and wonders why he is pale and alone—where not even a bird sings. Again (in the second stanza), the speaker asks after the knight—why does he looks so "haggard" and sad. The knight speaks of meeting a "lady;" she had long hair, was light-footed, and had wild eyes. They spent time together—and the looks she gave him spoke of love. Then...

...sidelong would she bend, and sing

A faery’s song.

It seems that having heard a faery's song, the knight would never be the same. Soon she tells him, "I love thee true." She takes him "to her Elfin grot ," though she sighs and cries—but the knight kisses her four times. Then he falls asleep and dreams of knights, princes and...

(The entire section contains 547 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now



check Approved by eNotes Editorial