The Onset of the Pale Silence

1180 Words5 Pages
John Keats was born the 31st of October 1795 and died of tuberculosis the 23rd of February 1821. Keats’ work was published over the course of four years, from 1817 to 1821. His literary ballad “La Belle Dame sans Merci” was written on April 21, 1819 in the course of a letter to his brother, George (Friedlander). “La Belle Dame sans Merci” translates to “the beautiful woman without pity” (“La Belle Dame sans Merci, A Study Guide”). Keats borrowed the title from a long poem written by the French poet Alain Chartier (“La Belle Dame sans Merci, A Study Guide”). The basic narrative of the ballad is easy enough to understand, but critics have argued over the deeper meaning. However, the common agreement seems to be between unrequited or impossible love, (“La Belle Dame sans Merci, A Study Guide”), and how beauty (and/or love) gives meaning to life (Friedlander). It is said that Keats’ was fascinated by the self-destroying experiences of intense passion (“Elements of Literature”, 751), and this is apparent in “La Belle Dame sans Merci.” The tone of the poem is melancholy, and by the use of imagery, specific word choice, and setting, the poem reflects the mood of the pallid knight. The setting itself takes place in two areas- the first in the present, which is late autumn or early winter, which is assumed by the precise imagery used, “sedge has wither’d” (line 3), “no birds sing” (line 4), and by the squirrel’s granary being full and the harvest being over (lines 7-8). The images portray a desolate landscape, with dead plants and little to no animal life; however the harvests, paired with the season, allude to the cycle of life and death. The second setting takes place in the knight’s retelling of his experience. It begins in... ... middle of paper ... ...he “palely loitering” knight representing death, old age, and the consequences of unobtainable lust. Works Cited "La Belle Dame sans Merci." La Belle Dame Sans Merci, A Study Guide. Michael J. Cummings, 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2010. . "La Belle Dame sans Merci." La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Shmoop University, 2010. Web. 17 Mar 2010. . Friedlander, Ed. "Enjoying "La Belle Dame sans Merci"." Enjoying "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," By John Keats. Friedlander, Ed, 2005. Web. 15 Mar 2010. . Melani, Lilia. ""La Belle Dame sans Merci"." Brooklyn College, 19 Feb 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2010. . Elements Of Literature. Sixth. 1. Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 751. Print.

More about The Onset of the Pale Silence

Open Document