“la belle dame sans merci” was written April 21, 1819 by John Keats. A Romantic poet who despite his reputation as being one of the most beloved poets of all time, was not well received during his short lived life. In fact Keats reputation didn’t grow till after his death near the end of the nineteenth century. He is now considered one of the key figures in the second generation of the romantic movement. Keats major works did not focus on religion, ethnics, morals, or politics. He wrote mostly of sensational experiences about the richness of life. Though experiences may be pleasurable at first they don’t always have fairytale endings, sometimes the pleasures of life can become overwhelming, such is the theme of Keats ballad “La belle dame sans merci”.
There are different suggestions to what gave Keats the idea for “La belle dame sans merci” At the time, Keats was very upset over a hoax that had been played on his brother Tom, who was deceived in a romantic relationship. He was also undecided about whether to enter into a relationship of his own with Fanny Brawne, who he loved but whose friends disapproved of the possible match with Keats. Shortly before the poem was written, Keats recorded a dream in which he met a beautiful woman in a magic place which turned out to be filled with pallid, enslaved lovers, and just before the poem was written, Keats had read Spenser's account of the false Florimel, in which an enchantress impersonates a heroine to her boyfriend, and then vanishes. All these experiences probably went into the making of this powerful ballad.(Friedlander Ed)
The setting takes place late autumn in England during the Age of Chivalry. The ballad ...
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...times the pleasures of life are too much to bear causing harsh reality to come crashing down when we realize that nothing lasts forever. We might as well enjoy what we have while we have it and not dwell onthings when they are gone, or we might all just be alone and palely loitering.
Friedlander, Ed. Enjoying "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" January 30, 2005: March 29, 2011 http://www.pathguy.com/lbdsm.htm
Wilhelm, Julian .
“Keats, John - La belle dame sans merci - a ballad” 2001, April 1st 2011 http://www.hausarbeiten.de/faecher/vorschau/103290.html
Melani Lilia. Department of English http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/belle.html
Shmoop University. Imagery & Wordplay La Belle Dame Sans Merci Symbolism, 2011
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