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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

La Belle Dame Sans Merci


by John Keats

Analysis: Brain Snacks

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Unlike the other major Romantic poets, John Keats came from an obscure, lower-middle-class background. He was the son of a stables manager in East London (the rich people lived in the West End). He was mostly self-taught – his formal education ended when his parents died. He was only fourteen when he left school to learn to be an apothecary (a pharmacist). When he started writing poetry, most critics dismissed him as an upstart. After all, they argued, how can anyone who isn't fluent in Latin and Ancient Greek write good poetry? (Source)

John Keats's mother died of tuberculosis. Some modern doctors think that John Keats contracted the infection from her, and that it was dormant for many years before he got sick in 1819. But most people believe that he caught it from his brother, Tom, whom he took care of in 1818. (Source)

Like the knight in "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Keats suffered from some serious love problems. But his girl didn’t leave him for dead "on a cold hill’s side." Keats was engaged to be married to Fanny Brawne, but they were kept apart first because of Keats’s financial problems, and then because of his terminal illness. Their relationship was pretty rocky from the beginning, but she remained loyal to him through the end of his life. (Source)

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