How John Keat's Poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" Shows The Dejection And Depression?


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'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' is a beautiful ballad written by John Keats. It is based on the medieval ballad Thomas Rymer. Thomas encounters a beautiful lady whom he thinks to be the queen of Heaven. She identifies herself as the queen Elfland. She takes him upon her milk white steed. He must serve her for seven years. For four days and nights they ride through blood while Thomas sees neither sun nor moon. Thomas eats the loaf and drinks the claret which the elf queen has brought. Al length they rest before a hill. The elf queen places his heed on her knee and shows three wonders the road to wickedness, to righteousness and to fair elfland. Keats has enriched this narrative with high symbolism of his own. We are fascinated by the hunting power be rhythm.

In this poem, the first three stanzas describe the autumnal scene and the woe-begone condition of the knight who is loitering about by the cheerless hill's side. The first three stanzas are an introduction to the stanzas that follow. The knight is forlorn and has a pale complexion. A stranger asks him about his troubled state of mind. The knight tells him how he met a lady in the meads. The lady in the meads is ideal beauty. He made for her a crown of flowers, bracelets, fragrant zone. Then he set her on his pacing steed and was so much absorbed in the contemplation of the ideal beauty that be became obviously of all surroundings. Then she found him a heavenly and magic food and sang an amorous song. The climax was reached when the lady took him to her elfin grot. But the pleasures of the earth pulled him down. He kissed her and shut her eyes. He shut the mystery of the ideal. The vision dissolved. She expected complete adoration and devotion from the knight. But he did not come to up to her ideal. The earth pulled him back. So the heavenly bliss was gone. As a measure of comfort, she lulled him to sleep. He had a dream in that sleep. He saw pale kings and princes and warriors. Their lips were starved and bloodless. After that the knight found himself on the cold hill's side. The poem completes the circle. It begins with the condition of the knight and the condition of nature and ends with the same words.
The poem is very much like an Ode on a Grecian Urn. It is rich in symbolism. Mortals strive after ideal beauty. Keats call it ethereal essence. Briefly the symbolism in the poem is this. The spirit of a person yearns towards the heaven's burn-the essence. In the order to reach spiritual perfection there must be self annihilation. The self of a person can be absorbed into the essence by nature, song and love. When a person strives to the essence he is released from the prison house of his mortal natural. He attains insight into the mortal and immortal natural of heaven's borne. Elfin got the symbol of man's home ethereal, but the pleasures of the earth pull him back. When on earth, he is lonely and can sojourn here, palely loitering on the cold hillside of the world. Mortal man is the symbol of transitoriness and decay. Man lives only after death. Therefore all earthly men are death pale. They are cut off from the realm of pure being. The pull of the earth does not allow man to attain spiritual bliss. It is only after death that he will do so.

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