The song "La Belle Dame sans Merci" ("The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy") was written by the English poet John Keats in 1819. The poem, considered an English classic, exemplifies Keats' creative obsession with love and death. It is best known for its doleful melody which has inspired many artists.
Keats based his poem on a medieval French ballad that had been previously set to music. The original French song tells of a lady named Mirandole who falls in love with a knight but he breaks her heart when he finds out she is not beautiful within nor without clothes. After this rejection, she becomes ill and dies. The song "La Belle Dame sans Merci" translates as "The Lovely Lady Without Mercy".
Keats may have used this song as inspiration for his own work but he also modified it significantly. For example, he changed the title from "The Lovely Lady Without Mercy" to "The Beauty She Wore", perhaps suggesting that beauty is not all that matters in life.
He also altered the plot slightly by replacing the original woman's rejection of the knight with his acceptance of her love. This change makes sense if you think about it: if someone loves you enough to accept you then you must be worth loving!
One of John Keats' most beautiful and unforgettable poems is "La Belle dame sans merci." It's a ballad about a romantic encounter between a knight and a gorgeous yet supernaturally seductive woman. The poem reads like a conversation between the knight and an unknown person. So each line can be read as someone saying something.
The poem is composed of 12 stanzas, which are sections of a song or chant. Each stanza has four lines with three feet (repetitions) in each line: an initial rhyme followed by a mid-line and then a final rhyme. The initial rhyme is usually a word or phrase that begins each line of the stanza and serves to link it to the next. The mid-line does not begin a new thought but adds meaning through repetition and variation. The final rhyme brings everything together at the end of the stanza.
In this poem, the initial rhyme is "grief" in all three lines. This means that each stanza begins with grief or sadness. The mid-line repeats this word twice and also includes the word "love," so overall, the mid-line says that this lady is loved by everyone who sees her beauty. The final rhyme is "mercy" in all three lines. This tells us that the lady is shown mercy even though she doesn't show mercy.
John Keats' poem La Belle Dame sans merci was initially published in the Indicator on May 10, 1820. The poem, titled "The Beautiful Lady Without Pity," depicts a meeting between a knight and a strange elfin beauty who eventually abandons him. The knight vows to take revenge on her for doing so, but she warns him that if he does, he will never be free of her.
Keats based the poem on an actual event that took place while he was living in Italy. In 17th-century Europe, there existed a tradition of kidnapping young women known as "damsels in distress" or "ladies without mercy." These women would often wear jewels that were too expensive for them, which led to their being labeled "belles dame sans merci" (lady knights without pity).
The damsel in question was actually an English girl named Maisie Lewis who had been kidnapped by two French men. They took her to France where they planned to sell her into slavery. But when they arrived there, they found out that she was not suitable for sale, so they released her without harming her. However, instead of letting her go, they both fell in love with her. When Maisie returned to England, she told Keats about these men, and he decided to write a poem about her experience.