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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

John Keats

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La Belle Dame
Added by: Maddy
So, what does ail the Knight at Arms?

There is good reason to think that he is dying of Tuberculosis. The symptoms are all described by Keats, who was himself dying of this dreaded disease- the fever, the hot flushed cheeks, the sweating forehead.

Nineteenth Century Art is full of passionate dying lovers! Mimi in La Boheme and Cathy in Wuthering Heights are two of the best known.
La belle dame sans merci
Added by: dee brown
reversal - men being lured to their deaths by beguiling women!

the beautiful woman lures the passing knights, soldiers etc to their deaths by her beauty. when the men are drugged they have the strange dreams and realise they are part of so many dying men before them.
Older version
Added by: Courtny
While this is the later version that Keats edited, I much prefer the earlier version, where certain lines are much better: The beginning goes

"O what can ail thee, knight at arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge has withered FROM the lake

And no bird sing."

I love this poem because it can be interpreted on so many levels--there's the straight-out story aspect of it, the interpretation that Keats's art simultaneously enchants and destroys him, the tuberculosis thing, a commentary on sexuality, etc. I love this poem!
quick note
Added by: Arconcyl
I also prefer the version where the narrator is referred to as the knight at arms.

This is the only poem of Keat's that deals with the supernatural in that manner, since most of the others only involve the supernatural as life after death.

Having an actual fairy-queen is something that is never repeated in any of his other works.
Theories of high school children.
Added by: DJ Spy
We've heard many different theories of who the mystery femme fatale in keat's poem actually is, and based on endless research and our own interepretation, this is what we've come up with. Enjoy.

Keats was diagnosed during the time this particular work was written. Many clues are given that the knight suffered from symptoms simliar to tb, so perhaps keats envisioned himself as a knight? During this period, he wrote letters to his ladylove fanny frequently. The belle dame is described as an enchantress of sorts. His relationship with fanny was looked down upon , and we have thus concluded, that she may have been seen as an enchantress as well. WE firmly believe that during bouts of fever, keats may have imagined fanny as the dame that stole him away from reality, and introduced him another realm outside his own. He was bewitched, his torubles forgotten as he became overwhelmed with love for her. She became his ideal , if not in the litteral sense, and provided him more an escape from pain than anything else.
Added by: Ria
in my opinion i think the woman is Keats comfort zone and its just a part of his amazing fantastical imagination that, and hes just pleasing himself while thinking of how she loved and then left him.

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