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Title: John Keats -


1
John Keats - La Belle Dame sans Merci
2
Ok I dropped French.. So what does the title
mean?
  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci
  • The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy
  • What does that suggest the poem might be about?

3
Themes of the poem
  • A magical experience.
  • A mood of enchantment.
  • A quest or journey.
  • A love affair.
  • Loneliness.

4
Form of the poem
  • Ballad
  • The folk ballad, which usually tells a basic
    story of love or pain, is known for its simple
    language and minimal details.

5
Translating the text(1)
  • O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and
    palely loitering? The sedge has withered from the
    lake, And no birds sing. O what can ail thee,
    knight-at-arms, So haggard and so woe-begone? The
    squirrel's granary is full, And the harvest's
    done. I see a lily on thy brow, With anguish
    moist and fever dew, And on thy cheeks a fading
    rose Fast witherth too. "I met a lady in the
    meads, Full beautiful- a faery's child, Her hair
    was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were
    wild. "I made a garland for her head, And
    bracelets too, and fragrant zone She looked at
    me as she did love And made sweet moan. "I set
    her on my pacing steed, And nothing else saw all
    day long For sidelong would she bend, and sing A
    faery's song.
  • What is troubling you, knight-at-arms, All alone
    and waiting about? The grass has died off around
    the lake And the birds don't sing. What is
    troubling you, knight-at-arms, So tired and
    immersed in sorrow? The squirrels storehouse is
    full And the harvests over. You are as pale as
    a lily flower And sweating, as if you suffer from
    illness, And on your cheeks the blush of
    life Quickly fades away. I met a lady in the
    meadow, As beautiful as a faerys child, With
    long hair, a dancer's step And wild eyes. I
    made a crown of flowers for her hair, Bracelets,
    and a belt of flowers She looked at me as if she
    loved me And gave a soft moan. I set her on
    my restless horse And my mind was consumed by her
    presence For sideways she would bend and sing The
    song of a faery.

6
Translating the text(2)
  • She found me sweet relish roots And wild
    honey, and the hardened, sugary sap of certain
    trees, And surely, in a foreign language she
    said I love you truly.' She took me to her
    faery grotto And there she wept and sighed
    strongly, And there I put her gently to
    sleep With four kisses. And there she calmed me
    to sleep And then I dreamed- and suffering
    befalls! The last dream I ever dreamed On the
    cold side of the hill. I saw pale kings, and
    princes as well, And pale warriors, all ghostlike
    and deathly, They cried- The beautiful lady
    without pity Has enslaved you! I saw their
    perishing lips in the gloom Gaped wide with
    horrid warning, And I woke up, and found myself
    here, On the cold side of the hill. And this is
    why I linger here, All alone and waiting
    about, Though the grass has died off around the
    lake And the birds don't sing.
  • "She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey
    wild, and manna-dew And sure in language strange
    she said, 'I love thee true.' "She took me to
    her elfin grot, And there she wept and sighed
    full sore, And there I shut her wild, wild
    eyes, With kisses four. "And there she lullèd me
    asleep, And there I dreamed- ah! woe betide!- The
    latest dream I ever dreamed On the cold hill's
    side. "I saw pale kings, and princes too, Pale
    warriors, death-pale were they all They cried-
    "La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in
    thrall!' "I saw their starved lips in the
    gloam, With horrid warning gapèd wide, And I
    awoke, and found me here, On the cold hill's
    side. "And this is why I sojourn here Alone and
    palely loitering, Though the sedge is withered
    from the lake, And no birds sing."

7
First 3 Stanzas
  • O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and
    palely loitering? The sedge has withered from the
    lake, And no birds sing. O what can ail thee,
    knight-at-arms, So haggard and so woe-begone? The
    squirrel's granary is full, And the harvest's
    done. I see a lily on thy brow, With anguish
    moist and fever dew, And on thy cheeks a fading
    rose Fast witherth too.
  • Whats up? You are looking pale and ill.
  • Why is the language so old and weird here?
  • Perhaps Keats is trying to create a dreamy mood,
    or a long-off and faraway tone.

8
Second 3 Stanzas
  • "I met a lady in the meads, Full beautiful- a
    faery's child, Her hair was long, her foot was
    light, And her eyes were wild. "I made a garland
    for her head, And bracelets too, and fragrant
    zone She looked at me as she did love And made
    sweet moan. "I set her on my pacing steed, And
    nothing else saw all day long For sidelong would
    she bend, and sing A faery's song.
  • The poem here has a lovely innocent fairy tale
    meaning here about flowers and meadows...
  • BUTLook at the suggestive vocabulary and
    imagery.

9
Third 3 Stanzas
  • "She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey
    wild, and manna-dew And sure in language strange
    she said, 'I love thee true.' "She took me to
    her elfin grot, And there she wept and sighed
    full sore, And there I shut her wild, wild
    eyes, With kisses four. "And there she lullèd me
    asleep, And there I dreamed- ah! woe betide!- The
    latest dream I ever dreamed On the cold hill's
    side.
  • She fed me sweet foods, I kissed her and went
    to sleep where I had a nightmarish dream.
  • Look at the language here the repeated dream
    and use of strange, wild and elfin suggests
    a mood or place what is it?

10
Last 3 Stanzas
  • "I saw pale kings, and princes too, Pale
    warriors, death-pale were they all They cried-
    "La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in
    thrall!' "I saw their starved lips in the
    gloam, With horrid warning gapèd wide, And I
    awoke, and found me here, On the cold hill's
    side. "And this is why I sojourn here Alone and
    palely loitering, Though the sedge is withered
    from the lake, And no birds sing."
  • In his dream kings and princes warn him the
    lady will keep him forever.
  • Notice the use of pale what else in the poem
    was pale?
  • How does that compare to other imagery in the
    poem?

11
The tricky deeper meanings
  • One thing that Keats is interested in doing is
    having an apparently simple poem but packing it
    with deeper meanings.
  • Is the poem about unrequited love?
  • What about the idea that this is a poem put in a
    fantasy setting to hide a real event?
  • Could it be about the feelings of being dumped?

12
Discussion
  • Who is the mystery speaker at the start?
  • Why do you think we dont know the names of
    people in the poem?
  • Why doesnt the knight just get up and leave?
  • What age do you think the poem is aimed at?
  • Can you think of any similar tales?

13
Discussion
  • Is the meeting between the two explicit?
  • Do the events reported by the knight account for
    his despair, debility, and suffering?
  • What is with the incongruity between the
    landscape and the knight?

14
JOHN KEATS
15
JOHN KEATS
  • (1795-1821)
  • father London stable keeper
  • apprenticed to be apothecary surgeon
  • gave it up to be poet
  • books of poetry in 1817, 1818, 1820
  • dead at 25
  • tuberculosis

16
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • 1819
  • Latin
  • The Beautiful Woman without Mercy
  • Literary Ballad
  • 12 4-line stanzas
  • repetitions
  • supernatural
  • knights, kings, princes
  • dialogue

17
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • title
  • The lovely lady without pity
  • medieval ballad by Alain Chartier
  • title quoted in The Eve of St. Agnes
  • but Keats borrows only the title, not the subject
    matter
  • story mortal destroyed by his love for a
    supernatural femme fatale
  • format folk ballad ? dialogue form
  • 1st 3 stanzas addressed to the Knight
  • 4-12 Knights reply

18
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • setting late fall
  • no birds, withered grass plant
  • harvest is done
  • squirrels holes are fully stocked
  • Speaker comes upon a knight
  • refrain O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms

19
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knight
  • pale, haggard,
  • woe-begone, fever, sweats
  • described as flowers lily rose
  • Description is not what we would expect of a
    knight he should be hearty, purposeful, strong,
    not pale and feverish
  • He should be on a quest

20
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knights story
  • met a beautiful lady in the meads
  • meadow, fields
  • a fairys child (?)
  • really (language, home)
  • OR
  • her beauty

21
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knights story
  • made her
  • garland for her head
  • bracelets, girdle/belt
  • rode with her on my horse
  • she sang a fairys song
  • she fed him roots, honey, manna
  • she spoke in a strange language
  • he didnt understand
  • BUT assumed she was saying she loved him

22
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knights story
  • she took him to her elfin grot
  • she cried
  • Why does she cry?
  • What was she trying to say in her language?
  • he calmed her with kisses
  • truly calmed or mask, faking it?
  • what she really needed?

23
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knights story
  • she lulled him asleep ? dreamed
  • nightmare
  • warned by previous kings, princes, warriors
    that La belle dame sans merci / Hath thee in
    thrall!
  • previous victims
  • pale as death, life sucked out of them
  • high social status (literary genre)
  • trying to warn him (title)

24
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knights story
  • he awoke in this same spot
  • and thats why hes there, pale alone
  • sojourn BUT loitering
  • movement BUT stationary
  • moved emotionally, creatively, spiritually

25
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • La Belle Dame
  • WHO is she?
  • fairy, elf, supernatural being
  • woman, beautiful
  • creativity, muse

26
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • La Belle Dame
  • THEMES based on who she is?
  • 2 different worlds, culture
  • love between 2 worlds doomed, never work
  • communication breakdowns
  • women different creatures, unknowable to men
  • assumptions of men, women need to be taken care
    of, comforted
  • men are from Mars, women are from Venus
  • unrequited love (Love Armed)
  • Dame Beauty can only be glimpsed

27
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • La Belle Dame
  • THEMES based on who she is?
  • She Muse, Knight Poet
  • men cannot live in World of Imagination
  • once in World of Imagination, men can no longer
    live in the Ordinary World
  • Poet caught between 2 worlds

28
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • THEMES
  • Love
  • dangers of love
  • danger signs at the start of relationships
  • unrequited love (Love Armed)
  • embarrassment, frustration
  • losing oneself in love, loss of control
  • despair emotionally crippled
  • shock of sudden end
  • after this love is gone now what?
  • cant go back once been there
  • supernatural?

29
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • THEMES
  • Despair
  • in life, in love
  • lost all hope
  • Nature
  • seasons in Nature
  • Nature in Death (winter, his imagery)
  • She child of Nature wild
  • food of Nature
  • home of Nature
  • Civilization vs. Natural World (Romanticism)

30
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Knight
  • WHY is he there?
  • lost, bewildered
  • cant leave for some reason
  • cant go back to his old lifestyle
  • there looking for her again
  • wants to go back
  • there warning others against her
  • what others did in his dream hes doing in
    reality
  • The Poet-Prophet?
  • Is that the role of the Poet?

31
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • SUPERNATURAL
  • Eve of St. Agnes
  • La Belle Dame
  • STCs Christabel
  • Other related works
  • To Autumn
  • Keats celebrates the season
  • season of completion, summation, peacedeath
  • (remember, Keats is dying, brother dead)

32
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Other related works
  • Lamia
  • female snake transforms into woman
  • man woman live in blissful love until scholar
    intervenes dispels the spell
  • suspension of conscious state (reasoning,
    thinking) magic
  • ruined by reason, logic
  • unweaving of the rainbow
  • Ode to a Nightingale
  • enthralled out of the ordinary life by beauty,
    nature
  • suspension of conscious state - reasoning,
    thinking
  • On Melancholy
  • melancholy, despair
  • only the Poet can appreciate sadness (of all
    things are ephemeral)
  • Ode on a Grecian Urn
  • a scene of beauty is captured forever
  • eternal moment better than reality

33
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • KEATS DREAMS
  • fine line between reality dream
  • dreams related to poetic vision
  • Eve of St. Agnes
  • La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Ode to Psyche
  • Ode to a Nightingale

34
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Like Popular Ballads
  • narrative
  • Repetitions
  • musical quality rhythm
  • noble men (victims)
  • supernatural
  • plain language
  • dialogue
  • no background

35
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • Unlike Popular Ballads
  • Literary
  • allusions, imagery, craftsmanship
  • multiple meanings, themes, interpretations
  • rhyme scheme (ABCB)
  • lines 1-3 8 syllables/beats
  • last line only 4/5 syllables/beats

36
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • FEMINIST reading
  • Femme fatale, succubus Sexist?
  • powerful, beautiful women supernatural,
    succubae to weak, threatened men
  • Knight doesnt know what she says BUT assumes
    its that she loves him
  • Knight doesnt know why shes crying BUT assumes
    he needs to comfort her, that she needs him to
    comfort her, with kisses
  • She powerful
  • pretends to be weak sucks him in to traditional
    male-female role
  • has ruined men of power before

37
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • BIOGRAPHICAL reading
  • What if she is NOT
  • fairy, supernatural, proto-Feminist?
  • What if she TUBERCULOSIS?
  • effects of TB effects of Dame
  • victims pale, dying, haggard
  • Keats physician
  • Keats brother died of it
  • Keats himself would soon thereafter

38
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • OTHER readings
  • Cults Ideologies
  • Drug addiction
  • Vampires
  • Religious rapture
  • English history of fairies
  • Beauty realm of Ideals vs. of Shadows

39
La Belle Dame sans Merci
  • JW Waterhouses painting
  • lthttp//www.jwwaterhouse.com/paintings/images/wate
    rhouse_la_belle_dame_sans_merci.jpg gt
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