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EPriano - La Belle Dame Sans Merci
[author: Elisa Priano - postdate: 2007-11-19]

Text: La Belle Dame Sans Mercì

Task: Textual Analysis


Denotative analysis


From reading the title I expect to read about a tragic story because La Belle Dame Sans Merc  is a French phrase meaning "the beautiful lady without pity". As a matter of fact the poem tells about a tragic love. In the first stanza an unidentified speaker, probably the poet, is speaking to a medieval armed knight.


The man is represented alone and pale while he is lingering. In the second stanza,  the  voice asks him what troubles him. In the following stanza the poet  describes the characteristics of the knight using metaphors. In the fourth stanza the knight himself begins to explain his story. He says that he met a lady in the meadow. This beautiful woman is described with long hair, light foot and wild  eyes. Then the man tells he made a garland, some bracelets and a belt for the girl whoseems to be in love with him. 


 "La Belle Dame" bewitched him with fairy songs and a strange brew. She confessed her love for the knight and  she took him to her magical cave. After kissing the woman eyes, the protagonist fell asleep and dreamed his last dream: in a cold hill there were the ghosts of kings, princes and warriors warning him against "La Belle Dame Sans Merci". At last the man says that  in the twilight he saw their opened lips and instantly  he found himself victim of the lady on the cold hill with the other dead men, killed by the dame. At the end of this poem the knight makes clearer the reason why he is lingering.