"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is part folk ballad, part romance, and part fairy tale. The lady's "wild" eyes suggest that maybe the knight isn't too far off when he calls her "a fairy's child." She appears out of nowhere, apparently lives in an "elfin grot" in the woods, and can ensnare any man she meets with her beauty, her "fairy's song," and her "language strange." Is she casting a spell over them, or are they just too easily obsessed with whatever beautiful woman is in their immediate line of sight? How much magic is there in this poem?
The lady of "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" could be read as simply a mortal woman who broke the heart of the knight. His re-telling of the story, however, casts her as supernatural in order to excuse his own weakness.