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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

La Belle Dame Sans Merci


by John Keats

Stanzas 11 & 12 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Stanza 11, Lines 41-44

"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.

  • The knight continues to describe the pale warriors from his dream – in the "gloam," or dusk, all he can make out are their "lips."
  • Their mouths are "starv'd" and hungry-looking, and their mouths are all open as they cry out their warning to the knight.
  • The word "gloam" just means dusk or twilight, but it's no accident that Keats uses it – after all, "gloam" sounds a lot like "gloom."
  • The knight wakes up from the dream alone and cold on the side of a hill.

Stanza 12, Lines 45-48

"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing."

  • The knight has finished his story. He tells the original, unnamed speaker, that this is why he's hanging out ("sojourn[ing]" and "loitering") by himself, even though it's so dismal outside.
  • The knight repeats the unnamed speaker's words from the first stanza, so that the poem ends with almost exactly the same stanza with which it began.

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