La Belle Dame sans Merci

In other media


Californication - Season 1, Episode 5

Rosemary & Thyme - Season 1, Episode 1

Downton Abbey - Season 6, Episode 5

Visual depictions

"La Belle Dame sans Merci" was a popular subject for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It was depicted by Frank Dicksee, Frank Cadogan Cowper, John William Waterhouse, Arthur Hughes, Walter Crane, and Henry Maynell Rheam. It was also satirized in the December 1, 1920 edition of Punch magazine.

Musical settings

The best-known musical setting is that by Charles Villiers Stanford. It is a dramatic interpretation requiring a skilled (male) vocalist and equally skilled accompanist. It has remained popular and is included on many anthologies of English song or British Art Music recorded by famous artists. Patrick Hadley also wrote a version for tenor, four-part chorus, and orchestra.


The 1915 American film The Poet of the Peaks was based upon the poem. The main antagonist of the 2009 stop-motion animated dark fantasy film Coraline references the Belle Dame in the poem (see Books).

The stop-action animated fantasy film Coraline (2009, directed by Henry Selick) refers to the malevolent Other Mother as "beldam", and includes a similar theme of entrapment by a seemingly beautiful loving woman.


The last two lines of the 11th verse are used as the title of a science fiction short story, "And I awoke and found me here on the cold hill's side", which is the Hugo and Nebula Award nominated short story by James Tiptree, Jr. (1973).

The last two lines of the first verse ("The sedge has withered from the lake/And no birds sing") were used as an epigraph for Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, about the environmental damage caused by the irresponsible use of pesticides. The second line was repeated later in the book, as the title of a chapter about their specific effects on birds.

The line is also featured on page 27 of Phillip Roth's The Human Stain in reaction to Coleman describing his new, far younger love interest.

The Beldam in Neil Gaiman's 2002 horror-fantasy novel Coraline references the mysterious woman who is also known as Belle Dame. Both share many similarities as both lure their protagonists into their lair by showing their love towards them and giving them treats to enjoy. The protagonists in both stories also encounter the ghosts who have previously met both women and warn the protagonist about their true colours and at the end of the story, the protagonist is stuck in their lair, with the exception of Coraline who managed to escape while the unnamed knight in this poem is still stuck in the mysterious woman's lair.

Vladimir Nabokov’s books, Lolita, Pale Fire and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, allude to the poem.

In Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, La Belle Dame sans Merci is identified as The Lady of the Lake and is a hidden antagonist.

David Foster Wallace's 2011 novel The Pale King alludes to the poem in its title.

Cassandra Clare's 2016 collection of novellas Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy includes a novella titled Pale Kings and Princes, named after the line "I saw pale kings and princes too/Pale warriors, death-pale were they all". Three of the poem's stanzas are also excerpted in the story.

In an interview with The Quietus the English songwriter and musician John Lydon cited the poem as a favourite.[3]

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