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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

La Belle Dame Sans Merci


by John Keats

Stanzas 3 & 4 Summary

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

Stanza 3, Lines 9-12

"I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew.
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too."

  • The speaker continues to address this sick, depressed "knight at arms." He asks about the "lily" on the knight's "brow," suggesting that the knight's face is pale like a lily.
  • The knight's forehead is sweaty with "anguish" and with "fever," so he's obviously sick.
  • The last two lines of the stanza describe how the healthy color is rapidly "fading" from the knight's cheeks.

Stanza 4, Lines 13-16

"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.

  • This stanza changes point of view.
  • All of a sudden, the knight answers the unnamed speaker's questions. So now the "I" is the knight, rather than the original speaker.
  • The knight says that he met a beautiful, fairy-like "lady" in the "meads," or fields.
  • She had long hair, was graceful, and had "wild" eyes. (We're not sure what "wild" eyes would look like, but apparently the knight thought it was attractive.)

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