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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is divided into twelve four-line stanzas, called quatrains. Each of those quatrains rhymes according to an ABCB pattern. For example, take a look at the first stanza: the...

Speaker

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is in the form of a dialogue between two speakers. The first is the unnamed speaker who comes across a sick, sad knight and pesters him with questions for the first three...

Setting

Reading "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is like walking into a classic fairy tale. No, we don't mean the Disney kind, with happy, singing mice and twittering birds. We mean the old-school, medieval kind...

Sound Check

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," like most ballads, sounds like a song. The steady rhythm of the words creates an underlying beat, and the rhyme scheme and all the alliterations make layers of sound tha...

What's Up With the Title?

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" isn't the most obvious title in the world for an English poem, because it's not in English. It's in French and, as those of you in French 1 already figured out, it transl...

Calling Card

Like most of the younger generation of Romantic poets (including Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley), John Keats liked to write poems celebrating youth, sex, and beauty. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"...

Tough-O-Meter

This is not Keats's toughest poem by a long shot. On a narrative, or storytelling level, it's pretty straightforward. A knight falls in love with a beautiful fairy lady, gets ditched, and is moping...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

There is definitely some fairy lady/knight-at-arms action going on in stanza 5, but it's not very explicit, so we're giving it a PG-13.

Shout Outs

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (Title and line 39): The title of the poem is taken from a medieval French courtly romance by Alain Chartier."Pale warriors, death pale were they all…" (line 38): t...
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