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Transcript of John Keats
La Belle Dame Sans Merci Inspired Artwork
Reoccurring subjects in his poems
Time Period/ Era
John Keats wrote during the Regency Era, better known as the Victorian Era. The Regency Era ran on from 1811-1814. This was a period of architecture and arts. Not surprisingly, this was a time were romantic poets were most active. The period is most popularly remembered by domestic novels, primarily by authors such as Jane Austen.
English Romantic Lyric Poet
Keats is not regularly associated with romantic poets. He wrote in a wide range of poetic forms. Most popular among these forms were sonnets, Spenserian, and Miltonic.
SONNET: Sonnets originated in Italy, by Giacmo Da Lentini. They primarily have fourteen lines with ten syllables per line.
Spenserian: The Spenserian poem was invented by Edmund Spenser. This poem contains stanzas with nine lines total. Eight follow iambic pentameter, while the last does not.
Miltonic: This type of poem was created by John Milton. It has a highly political structure. It is a standard for English epics.
Keats prominent works include a collection of odes. One most popularly known is "Ode to a Nightingale." In these works, common symbols include nature and birds. Recurring themes include death and questioning perception. A somber tone is displayed in his works influenced by his fathers death.
"She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four."
John Keats was born on October 31, 1795 in London, England. He was first son of four surviving children, including George Keats, Thomas Keats, and Frances Mary Keats; one child had died during birth. Keats lost both parents at a young age. Keats' father, who was a livery stable keeper, was killed by a stampede of horses at age eight. His mother became financially unstable, and in 1810, she died of tuberculosis, resulting in sending the Keats children to live with their grandmother. As a child, John Keats continued struggling with his finances.
William Waterhouse (1849-1917)
John Keats wrote a series of love letters to Fanny Brawne, though they did not end up together. Although he lived a rather tragic life, Keats was a practical jokester. When Keats became sick, he could not have physical contact with family members and had to speak to people through a glass wall.
Keats's tombstone reads, "Nere lies one who's name was written in water."
Because he was only 5 feet tall, people thought he was younger than his brother.
His sister was believed to be a prostitute.
Romantic Lyric Poet
Popular subjects in Keats's poems include beautiful women, loneliness, and nature.
In multiple poems, Keats illustrates a person alone on a shore, or hills. Imagery in Keats's poem is commonly gloomy. His fascination with death is reflected through several of his poems.
His poems are notorious for creating a somber or overcast atmosphere around nature.
Keats's poems commonly revolve around a woman, who can be deadly but is beautiful.
O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and paley loitering?
The sedge had wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.
I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.
The rest of the poem is the knight's response to the passerby's question. In the fourth, fifth and sixth quatrain, the knight talks of meeting a "lady" (13) who had some degree of magical powers on him, as he describes her as "a faery's child," (14). The change in meter from iambic pentameter is seen in the quote, "and her eyes were wild", which extenuates the foreshadowing of the unpredicatablitiy of this lady. The knight proceeds to make a "garland for her head" and "bracelets too" suggesting he is emotionally invested in the her. The two procede to "make sweet moan" (20), suggesting she is emotionally invested in him too. He becomes so caught up in her apparent beauty that he "[sees] nothing else all day long." (26). Much like the Sirens in the tale of Odesseus, the lady enchants him by singing him "A faery's song" (28).
The first three quatrains establish the first speaker as a passerby who stumbles upon a knight who is either close to death, or severly derpressed, depending on the interpretation of the ambiguity. The severity of the depression or sickness is evident when his "cheeks [are] a fading rose" (10) and he has "anguish moist and fever dew,"(9). The setting is established as late fall or early winter as "The squirells granary is full, / And the harvest's done." (7-8). The main premise of these first three quatrains is to set up the story that the knight has to tell about what happened to him, as repetitively, the passerby asks the knight, "O what can ail thee, knight at arms?" (5).
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful – a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
"I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.
"I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery's song.
"She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild and manna-dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
'I love thee true.'
"She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh'd full sore;
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.
"And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dream'd – ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.
The next three quatrains effectively foreshadow the peripeteia in the ensuing quatrains. The knight talks abput his lady finding him "honey wild" and "manna-dew;" (30) which symbolizes the fact that he is lost, just as the Isrealistes were lost, wandering the desert after they escaped slavery, eating wild honey and manna. She then procedes to tell him "in a language strange" (31) that she loves him, suggesting he is either hearing what he wants to hear, or that he can all-of-a-sudden understand strange languages. She takes him to her "elfin grot" (33), but starts crying soon after, so he "shut[s] her wild, wild eyes" (35) with not the usual three kisses, but with "four" (36), which exemplifies the unusual nature of what is happening to him, as well as foreshadows discord. Much like a siren, the lady procedes to lull him to sleep, and asleep, the man has a dream which brings him much horror to describe, as he says, "ah! woe betide" (38).
"I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all:
They cried, 'La belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!'
"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.
"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing."
The major shift , or perepeteia, from a tone of happiness to a somber tone, occurs when the knight dreams of princes, knights, and warriors who are all "death-pale" (42), foreshadowing the knight's future. This group of souls cries out to the warrior "La Belle Dame Sans Merci / Hath thee in thrall." (43-44), which translates roughly from the French and English as, " The beautiful woman without mercy has power over you," which must have been terrifying for him. He goes on to characterize in detail the ghost-like figures as having "starved lips" (45) which are "gaped wide" (46), again, exemplifying the death imagery. The knight then wakes up from his not-so-restful slumber not in the cave of the woman, but "On the cold hill's side " (48) in the terrible condition the passerby found him in. The knight then concludes his story, reitterating that the aforementioned information what the reason for his haggard state, repeating part of the question that the passerby asked: "Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake / And no birds sing" (51-52). In many cultures, birds represent a being of magic; therefore, a key insight is offered by the repetition of the line about the lack of birds near the lake. If there are no birds, then there really isn't magic, and he most most likely dreamt it all.
Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877-1958)
Henry Meynell Rheam (1859-1920)
John Keats was a second generation English Romantic Poet, alongside famous writer such as Lord George Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Keats lived a relatively short and sickly life, dying at the age of twenty-five. In his lifetime, he managed to publish fifty-four poems, three slim volumes, and a few magazines.
Explication: Satnzas 1-3
Explication: Stanzas 4-6
Explication: Stanzas 7-9
Explication: Stanzas 10-12
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Before becoming renowned poet and writer, he was taken out from school to become the apprentice of the family's doctor, Thomas Hammond, at the age of fourteen. In the summer of 1810, he moved in above surgery with Hammond in a hospital located in Edmonton, North England. Keats left before his apprenticeship was done and joined Guy's Hospital. After six month of training and passing a difficult exam, John recieved his apothecary license on July 26, 1816. Keats soon sacrificed his medical caeer to strive for a literary life. He became aqquainted with known poets such as Leigh Hunt, Percy B. Shelley, and Benjamin Robart Haymon. Hunt even helped Keats publish his first poem in a magazine. A year later, John Keats managed to publish thirty poems and sonnets, in a volume named "Poems".
Volume of Poems (1817)
Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819)
La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (1819)
"On Autumn" (1820)
Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820)