Sunday, February 19, 2012

La Belle Dame sans Merci by Keats. What the heck does it mean?

I have to do a short 1 page paper on it for my Western Literature class, but I really don't understand.

I know the knight has a dream about a woman(a fairy), and they fall in love. He wakes up and is grief stricken I guess because he realizes it was a dream..?

What significance is there in the title?

I just truly don't get it.

Thanks=)La Belle Dame sans Merci by Keats. What the heck does it mean?You seem to understand the narrative's plot, for the most part. The knight is enchanted, whether literally or figuratively, by this woman or fairy. She is the person described in the title: "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" means, in French, "The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy (or: Pity)". It is because of her that, at the end of the poem, the knight is still "loitering" where he met her.

There are many sources online describing the poem, among them Wikipedia:鈥?/a>

But while I'm here, I might as well translate to you each stanza. Here is the poem, first of all (I'm sure you have a copy):

Stanza... I: The speaker, whose identity we never learn (probably just a passerby), asks the knight what is bothering him. Why is the knight still hanging around this place (where he and the speaker are), when the plants have died and the birds aren't singing? In other words, it's already winter.

II. Pretty much the same thing. Fall, when the squirrel gathers nuts, is long past.

III. The knight looks sick! He's all pale and there's no blush in his cheeks. Could his ailment be emotional?

IV. Now it's the knight talking, describing the faery gal.

V. "I made her jewelry from flowers!" he says. "We made out and she seemed to like it!"

VI. "We rode around on my horse and the girl sang!" They were really happy.

VII. "She gave me yummy edible plants! Manna and honey, just like in the Promised Land of the Old Testament! And she didn't really speak my language, but I'm SURE that she said she loved me..."

VIII. "She took me to her little cave and started sobbing for some reason. I consoled her, kissing her eyes shut." (Isn't that romantic?)

IX. Then the girl sang him to sleep, and he had his last dream. Is this because she killed him, or just because he is now an insomniac out of worry and love for her? Or is this just the only dream he will ever have, now that he has had this experience? All feasible possibilities.

X. "Then a bunch of zombie-looking men just like me said (to me, in this dream), 'This lady of no pity has enchanted you!'"

XI. "It was scary, and then I woke up."

XII. "And that is why I'm still here."

Once you understand the plot, I believe you will be able to make of it what you will. Good luck!La Belle Dame sans Merci by Keats. What the heck does it mean?I think Sonia did a great job paraphrasing but I just wanted to add the ambiguity of the knight's position. Its not really known whether he is a "love zombie" as seen by his lack of color and his prophetic dream or if he really is just heart broken.

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