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Thread: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

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    Registered User bowtiesarecool's Avatar
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    La Belle Dame Sans Merci

    Hey guys! I've just finished studying this beautiful poem and it's become pretty obvious that there is an air of ambiguity and mystery surrounding it.. it can be interpreted in many ways. I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with the poem, what are your personal views on it?

    Do you think that La Belle Dame is a 'femme fatale', and truly indeed a magical being.. or is the poem deeper than that? Is it a reflection of Keats' relationship that he had between his love, Fanny, and poetry?

    Can't wait to hear back from you all!
    Last edited by bowtiesarecool; 12-08-2011 at 11:27 AM.

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    Keats was familiar with the first La Belle Dame sans merci poem, with the theme of wandering woman that is usual in such stories. She is indeed one. The poem has much of Keats ambiguity, magic and reality, life force and death, movement and lack of action. You can see it in his Odes, which are the probally best source for Keats's meanings and aesthetics.

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    Registered User bowtiesarecool's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks for the response! I am thoroughly enjoying Keats' work, and I do love this poem. I agree with you that La Belle Dame is indeed a femme fatale - and I find it intriguing to look at heartbreak from a man's perspective.

    I also love the imagery and the magical elements of the poem. It's gorgeous.

    Do you think that there is any link to Keats' state of mind in there?

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    Well, the idea of femme fatale is something a bit different. La Belle dame does not provoke sin or anything, it is more a unreachable state where the man cannt return. Keats have a constant state of death-life in his life, so you may see it well, but the poem can be liked to keats aesthetical ideas, as the idea of a man who go all the way thru an experience and when it is over, still "feels" it is very present in his work.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    I agree that the poem speaks more to the poet's relation with an idea than his relation with a woman. The poem warns against being lulled by an idea and finding yourself trapped, unable to break free of it. Whether the idea is Death, a certain poem, or Desire among others, we must always be on our guard.

    I see a lot of similarities between this poem and Ode on a Grecian Urn in regards to the theme of being trapped.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User bowtiesarecool's Avatar
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    Ah, so the poem is warning of becoming intoxicated and consumed by an idea, to the point where it can destroy you.

    Would it be justified to say that La Belle Dame is a personification, or a representation of these ideas?

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    La Belle Dame is, something unexplained, not natural, something that appease and mix the "man" senses. Like Charles pointed; it can be an urn or a nightingale too. Keats is not in any sense an intellectual, not like for example, Coleridge, he seems to arrive to his concepts by trial and his way to express, at least his best way, are by poems.

    Now, I do not think he implies that the idea consume to the viewier to death, but another state of mind, of contemplative, somehow derivated from Wordsworth's ideas. There is a poetic state in Keats mind, where beauty, truth, dreams, all are mixed. Albeit his obvious relation with suffering and death, in Keats, life is always - to mix Robert Browing - read to surprise us. He is not morbid, rather longing.

    La Belle Dame sans Merci (i like it much) is not one of his best developed poems, in the Odes Keats ideas and development seem more complete and his ideas and contrasts more strong. After them, La Belle Dame is more understandable.

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