La Belle Dame sans Merci

La Belle Dame sans Merci Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

a first-person speaker addressing a knight on the road

Form and Meter

Ballad with quatrains following an ABCB rhyme pattern and iambic tetrameter

Metaphors and Similes

The metaphor of the lily upon the knight's brow and the fading rose color of his cheeks describes the knight's complexion while juxtaposing symbols of purity and eros.

Alliteration and Assonance

"She found me roots of relish sweet"

Repetition of 's' and 'r'

"For sidelong would she bend, and sing a faery’s song."

Repetition of 'f' and 's'

"wept and sighed full sore, and there I shut her wild wild eyes with kisses four"
Repetition of 'w,' 'f,' and 's'


The knight believed that the woman genuinely reciprocated his love and desire, but we know from the poem's tone and atmosphere that this is untrue.




A chilly hillside


cold and foreboding

Protagonist and Antagonist

The knight and speaker are the protagonists; the woman is the antagonist

Major Conflict

There are two major conflicts in the poem: the tension between eros and purity, and between the pale, weary men and the enchanting woman in the woods.


The climax occurs during the knight's dream, when we learn that many others have fallen under the woman's spell.


By beginning with a question, "O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms," Keats foreshadows the conflict the knight faced in the woods.



Keats alludes to medieval verse through the speaker's vision. The characters of knights, faerys, kings, and princes also look back to the poetry of this time-period.

Metonymy and Synecdoche