Theme Of La Belle Dame Sans Merci

1049 Words5 Pages
The Poetry of John Keats John Keats (1795 – 1821) Introduction: Among the English Romantic poets, Keats was the least education but in many ways the most skillful, both technically and thematically. His themes are far ranging but deeply analyzed; his poems are musical and intricate, especially in applying the classical form of the ode, the ballad of folklore, and the Renaissance sonnet to contemporary life. In a life severely shortened by tuberculosis (which also killed his mother and brother), he produced a remarkable set of poems that have endured well beyond the Romantic period. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”: This poem utilizes a medieval setting and a ballad-like form to tell the story of a knight who has been deceived and betrayed by a heartless but beautiful young woman who represents evil. The poem begins with a narrator’s discovery of a knight who appears to be dying. It is autumn and preparations are complete for winter,…show more content…
But acting as a revenging Amazon in her nemesis phase, she wishes to take a male victim with her as a sacrificial victim who will be the thanks offering for this year’s harvest and the propitiation for a success growing season the following spring. In these actions she is the opposite of Gretchen in Goethe’s Faust, where she is the victim of male aggression without benefit of revenge. Thus in stanza VII the lady poisons the unsuspecting knight. He then falls into a dream in which he sees the lady’s earlier victims. And when he awakes, he finds himself defenseless in what to him is a wasteland but to the narrator is merely the natural setting of late autumn. For an explanation of the White Goddess myth see Robert Graves, The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948. Also see
Open Document