La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Prompt and Poem by John Keats)

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” by Frank Dicksee

In the late Spring of 1819, John Keats had finished composing and drafting his lyrical ballad, “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” which does not only demonstrate the narrative of a Medieval Romance, however, it too suggests symbolism of the poet’s adversities with his romantic relationship to Fanny Brawne and the poverty of his physical healthy. The ballad begins with an outsider of the romance, questions why the main character and narrator appears so sallow, ill, and “haggard.” The knight replies, with his tale describing his amorous affair with a wild fairy or nymph-like maiden. Remember, fairies or fae creatures of Medieval legend were usually distinguished as temptresses or deceiving rogues. The knight describes her with, “long tresses, light feet, and wild eyes.”  They begin, spending days together, where the fairy sings to the knight and he fashions her flower wreaths. Eventually, he follows her into her  grotto, where they kiss and he falls weary with sleep. The knight then has a dream vision of pale princes and men, who too, were once loved by the fairy maiden, and exclaim to the knight, “La belle dame sans merci hath thee in thrall!” the knight then awakens, alone by a chill hillside.

Link to the poem:

Now, write a poem or prose piece, describing a short time of joy, of which the narrator or main character engages in a time of jubilance, and which suddenly soured by loneliness and grief. You can include a romance, however, the main idea is to represent a capture of happiness  then shifted to suffering through the movement of seasons. Or something of the sort.

One thought on “La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Prompt and Poem by John Keats)

  1. Reading Reality

    Getting lost in a labyrinth of joy
    Is an unmatched experience
    The out of body feeling can not be compared
    The freedom to feel emotions so fully
    To perceive the world however I please
    To look through another set of eyes
    If only for a minute
    If only for an hour
    If only for a day because it never lasts much longer
    Gone too fast are the words on the pages
    Gone too fast are the beautifully composed characters
    Gone too fast is my wonderful escape
    And reality comes knocking
    Harder than the gravity chaining me to this Earth
    The pain is akin to that of being skinned with a needle
    Yet it happens in the span of a second
    While swimming in the worn smell of a book
    It is quite easy to forget
    That I remain prisoner to a body
    A body that has never known the outside of its cage


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