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John Keats: La Belle Dame Sans Merci Essay, Research Paper

Essay on “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

John Keats was born in London on October 31, 1795. He was the son of a stable attendant who married the owner’s daughter and later inherited the stable for himself. The elder Mr. Keats died when John was eight, leaving the family tied up in legal matters that lasted the rest of John’s life. He was fourteen when his mother died of tuberculosis, and fifteen when his guardian apprenticed him to an apothecary-surgeon. Soon after, John left the medical field to focus primarily on poetry.

In July 1820, John left England for Italy. He had suffered a serious hemorrhage of the lungs, which he at once recognized as a symptom of tuberculosis. He was told by doctors that the warmer air of Italy would help cure him. John and his friend took up residence in a home next to the famed Spanish Steps in Rome. He died of tuberculosis on February 23, 1821, at the age of twenty-six.

John Keats wrote several romances, including Endymion, and The Eve of St. Agnes. He also wrote some lyrics, but the best known are the are the sonnets and a series of major odes that include an Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, and To Autumn. One of his best known ballad is A Belle Dame sans Merci (A Women Without Pity).

La Belle Dame sans Merci is an innovation for Keats since he had always been use to writing his usual iambic pentameter poems. The meter in La Belle Dame sans Merci was an experiment. Keats uses a lot of auditory and visual imagery. In addition, he also uses figurative language, understatement and overstatement all throughout the poem. On that account, he also uses a single exclamation mark throughout the poem that also contributes to the atmosphere of desolation.

In conclusion, La Belle Dame sans Merci is a romantic poem because the knight meets a beautiful person that he thinks he falls in love with at first sight. Little does he know that she has cast a spell on him. Before the spell is cast he makes her a garland of flowers, a bracelet and a belt. She brings him goods to eat. According to the knight they have fallen in love at first sight, but the beautiful woman has no pity for men and leaves him with his heart in his hands. To that extend one would consider “La Belle Dame sans Merci” to be a romantic poem.


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