Le belle dame sans merci john keats
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O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge is withered from the Lake, And no birds sing! Line O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5) So haggard and so woebegone? The Squirrel’s granary is full, And the harvest’s done. I see a lily on thy brow,

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Le belle dame sans merci john keats l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide2 l.jpg

D Autumn is described with such images as the withered sedge, the absence of birdsong, the completion of the harvest– in other words, through its sights and sounds.


Slide3 l.jpg

Poem

B The poem consists of two sections. In the first part the narrator sets the scene and asks the knight what ails him. The second, the major, part of the poem contains the knight’s response, which begins on line 13.


Le belle dame sans merci john keats4 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats

Notice the shift from the speaker’s voice to the knight’s recounting of events.


Slide5 l.jpg

E Autumn is a season of change. The joys of summer dry up and fade away just as the knight’s happiness has dissolved upon waking from his dream and finding himself jilted. Devastated by loss, he pines for his lost love while loitering sad and lonely around the countryside. He is also in shock. “Fever dew” is the sweat of illness. The fading of his cheeks and the pallor on his forehead imply that he is dying, although he himself may not know it, for he is still in thrall to the lady.


Slide6 l.jpg

C Melancholy images prevail in the knight’s description of his encounter with the lady. That the knight despairs is obvious in the first two lines of the poem. The woman mysteriously entrances the knight, just as she had enthralled other men (kings, princes, and warriors). While the woman’s behavior may be appalling, to call it terrifying is an overstatement.


Slide7 l.jpg

Poem

E The lily suggests the whiteness of the knight’s forehead, while the “fading rose” implies his increasingly pale cheeks. Both metaphors reinforce the image of the knight “palely loitering,” introduced in line 2 and reiterated in line 46.


Le belle dame sans merci john keats8 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide9 l.jpg

Poem

B At this point in the story, the knight is explaining why he was attracted to the lady. One reason is that her irresistible gaze said, “I love you,” a sentiment she puts into words in line 26.


Le belle dame sans merci john keats10 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan(20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide11 l.jpg

Poem

D Lines 23-24 explain why the knight “nothing else saw all day long.” Ordinarily a “faery’s song” would not obstruct one’s vision, but in this case it blinded the knight with love.


Le belle dame sans merci john keats12 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide13 l.jpg

Poem

C Line 34 marks a turning point in the knight’s story. Before exclaiming “Ah woe betide!” he simply tells what happened during his brief affair with the lady. With the dream comes anguish heightened by this uncontrollable outburst of emotion.


Le belle dame sans merci john keats14 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide15 l.jpg

Poem

A Although all the choices allude to events in the knight’s story, “this” refers directly to the shock of finding himself “here / On the cold hill’s side” (lines 43-44) after having been lulled to sleep in the lady’s “elfin grot” (line 29).


Le belle dame sans merci john keats16 l.jpg

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is withered from the Lake,

And no birds sing! Line

O what can ail thee, Knight-at-arms, (5)

So haggard and so woebegone?

The Squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,

With anguish moist and fever dew; (10)

And on thy cheek a fading rose

Fast withered too.

“I met a Lady in the Meads,

Full beautiful, a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light (15)

And her eyes were wild.

“I made a Garland for her head,

And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;

She looked at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan (20)

“I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong would she bend and sing

A faery’s song.

“She found me roots of relish sweet, (25)

And honey wild, and manna dew;

And sure in language strange she said—

‘I love thee true.’

“She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sighted full sore, (30)

And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

“And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—Ah woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dreamt (35)

On the cold hill side.

“I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!” (40)

“I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here

On the cold hill’s side

“And this is why I sojourn here, (45)

Alone and palely loitering;

Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,

And no birds sing.”

Le Belle Dame Sans MerciJohn Keats


Slide17 l.jpg

B The poem is basically a story of a lovestruck man saddened by a woman who pretends to love him but then leaves him in a lurch.


Slide18 l.jpg

D The dreary setting of the poem goes hand in hand with the knight’s “haggard and so woebegone” condition and with the melancholy mood of the poem. The other choices name poetic features of the poem but have less importance than choice D.


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