La Belle Dame sans Merci

Introduction

"La Belle Dame sans Merci" (French for "The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy"[1]) is a ballad written by the English poet John Keats. It exists in two versions, with minor differences between them. The original was written by Keats in 1819. He used the title of the 15th-century La Belle Dame sans Mercy by Alain Chartier, though the plots of the two poems are different.[2]

The poem is considered an English classic, stereotypical of other of Keats' works. It avoids simplicity of interpretation despite simplicity of structure. At only a short twelve stanzas, of only four lines each, with a simple ABCB rhyme scheme, the poem is nonetheless full of enigmas, and has been the subject of numerous interpretations.


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