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Literary Movements and John Keats’ Poems

La Belle Dame sans Merci is a poem written by John Keats in 1819 that appeared in Keats’ letter to his brother. The poem is written in the style of a traditional ballad and tells a story of a knight’s encounter with a beautiful lady with dreamlike powers, described as “a fairy’s child” (Jacobus & Martin, 2018, p. 181). Enchanted by the lady, the knight takes her to “elfin grot,” where she puts him to sleep (Jacobus & Martin, 2018, p. 181). In his dream, he is warned about the spell that the lady put on the knight to thrall him by pale ghostly shadows of kings, princes, and warriors. The knight awakes from the dream and leaves to wander alone, where he meets the narrator and tells him his story.

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The ballad is acknowledged as one of the most influential pieces of the romanticism movement (Barman, 2020). The piece features elements signature for the romanticism movement in emphasizing the ideas of passion, emotions, and beauty. Moreover, the plot contrasts the knight’s passion with the cold setting of nature where he wanders and the lady’s beauty with the paleness of her victims. The themes of love and death are essential in pieces from the romanticism movement; the poem also features the supernatural origins of the female character, implying that she is a fairy, which is typical for romanticism. According to Barman (2020), the poem has a lyrical component, as many suggest that Keats’ real-life story and relationship with Fanny Brawne serve as a base for the poem. Even though the poem could be interpreted as a ballad or a lyric, it closely relates to the romanticism movement with its theme and story elements.

References

Barman, M. (2020). Keats’ “La Belle Dame sans Merci” – ballad or lyric: A critical analysis. Journal of Critical Reviews, 7(8), 3699-3707.

Jacobus, L.A., & Martin, F.D. (2018). Humanities through the Arts (10th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

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StudyCorgi. "Literary Movements and John Keats’ Poems." September 8, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/literary-movements-and-john-keats-poems/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Literary Movements and John Keats’ Poems." September 8, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/literary-movements-and-john-keats-poems/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Literary Movements and John Keats’ Poems'. 8 September.

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