Comparing the Themes of Love in Lord Byron's “She Walks in Beauty” and Keats' Poem, “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

Comparing the Themes of Love in Lord Byron's “She Walks in Beauty” and Keats' Poem, “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

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There are many different themes that can be used to make a poem both successful and memorable. Such is that of the universal theme of love. This theme can be developed throughout a poem through an authors use of form and content. “She Walks in Beauty,” by George Gordon, Lord Byron, is a poem that contains an intriguing form with captivating content. Lord Byron, a nineteenth-century poet, writes this poem through the use of similes and metaphors to describe a beautiful woman. His patterns and rhyme scheme enthrall the reader into the poem. Another poem with the theme of love is John Keats' “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” meaning “the beautiful lady without mercy.” Keats, another nineteenth-century writer, uses progression and compelling language throughout this poem to engage the reader. While both of these poems revolve around the theme of love, they are incongruous to each other in many ways.
While Lord Byron's poem enhances the beauty of love, Keats' does the opposite by showing the detriments of love. In “She Walks in Beauty,” the speaker asides about a beautiful angel with “a heart whose love is innocent” (3, 6). The first two lines in the first stanza portray a defining image:
“She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;”

These lines may seem confusing if not read properly. At first look, these might not make sense because the night is acquainted with darkness, but when the lines are read together as intended, one can see that the night is “cloudless” and filled with “starry skies” (1, 1-2). The remaining lines of the first stanza tell the reader that the woman's face and eyes combine all the greatness of dark and light:
“And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and...


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...tion between loneliness and death. The first three lines of each stanza in this poem generally have four feet, while the last line have only two or three. This change calls attention to the last line, in which Keats makes references to images.
Although these poems are both centered around the theme of love, they each contain a different meaning. Lord Byron's “She Walks in Beauty” is dedicated to conveying love through the use of metaphors. Keats' poem, “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” on the other hand, tells a story about how love can be deceiving. Despite their differences, these poems have similarities as well. They each have three parts that progress a story along through the use of literary techniques. Each poem was also written in the early 1800's. These poems both implicate the reader to make a connection to everyday life by relating possible experiences of love.

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