Wednesday, October 19, 2005

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats

O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd 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 withereth 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 a 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.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in a language strange she said-
"I love thee true"

She took me on her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh'd fill sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd- Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
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 gaped 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 wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

What I like is how in the first two stanzas of the poem use images to set this somber heart sick tone. I also like how the poem goes from asking the Knight why he is in this somber state to the knight answering the question. When he described this faery woman I like how he described this woman as having wild eyes. I think that that is foreshadowing of the events to come. Her wild wild eyes are what gives away her true nature. Also the gifts that she gives to him are wild and exotic, so it is like she is this wild creature that cannot be tamed. Also when she says that she loves him I am wondering if that is what she says at all because the language that she speeks in is strange to him. I think that he is just projecting his feelings on to her and also thinking that what he says to her is said back to him. When he gets lulled into this dream and abandoned by her I think that it is interesting that he finds many more people that have fallen for her and that they are all people of power kings and princes and that she seems to have taken the life out of him. And that is why she is called the beautiful woman without mercy.


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