La Belle Dame sans Merci by J.Keats Ex. 1 7 p. 296 La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John William Waterhouse - 1893 La belle dame sans merci I 'O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Oh cosa ti affligge, cavaliere armato, Alone and palely loitering? Che vaghi solo e pallido? The sedge is wither'd from the lake, Il giunco avvizzito (in riva) al lago, And no birds sing. E nessun uccello canta. II 'O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Oh cosa ti affligge, cavaliere armato, So haggard and so woe-begone? Dallaspetto cos stanco e cos desolato? The squirrel's granary is full, Il granaio dello scoiattolo pieno, And the harvest 's done. Ed il raccolto fatto. ( stato fatto)
III 'I see a lily on thy brow Vedo un giglio sulla tua fronte With anguish moist and fever dew; Imperlata dangoscia e inumidita dalla febbre; And on thy cheeks a fading rose E sulle tue guance una rosa (che sta) appassendo Fast withereth too.' Velocemente avvizzisce pure. thy = your whithered = whithers IV 'I met a lady in the meads, Incontrai una dama nei prati, Full beautiful -- a faery's child, full = pieno Molto bella la figlia di una fata, Her hair was long, her foot was light, I suoi capelli erano lunghi, il suo passo (piede) era leggero, And her eyes were wild. Ed i suoi occhi erano selvaggi. V
'I made a garland for her head, Feci un ghirlanda (di fiori) per la sua testa, And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; E braccialetti pure, ed una cintura fragrante; She look'd at me as she did love, (as if she loved me) Lei mi guard come se mi amasse, And made sweet moan. E fece un dolce lamento. VI 'I set her on my pacing steed La posi sul mio destriero al passo (che andava al passo) And nothing else saw all day long, E non vidi altro durante tutto il giorno, For sideways would she lean, and sing (she would sing) Perch si piegava sul fianco, e cantava A faery's song. Faery = fairy Una canzone di fata. VII 'She found me roots of relish sweet Mi trov radici di dolce sapore And honey wild and manna dew, E miele silvestre e rugiada di manna, And sure in language strange she said,
E sicura in una strana lingua mi disse, "I love thee true!" Ti amo veramente! true = truly VIII 'She took me to her elfin grot, Lei mi port alla sua magica grotta, And there she wept and sigh'd full sore; sighd = sighed E l pianse e sospir molto addolorata; And there I shut her wild, wild eyes E l io chiusi i suoi selvaggi, selvaggi occhi With kisses four. Con quattro baci. IX 'And there she lulld me asleep, E l lei mi cull fino al sonno, And there I dream'd -- Ah! woe betide! E l io sognai Ah! mal me ne incolse! The latest dream I ever dream'd Lultimo sogno che ho mai sognato On the cold hill's side. Sul fianco della fredda collina.
X 'I saw pale kings and princes too, Vidi pallidi re e principi pure, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; Pallidi guerrieri, con pallore mortale erano tutti loro; They cried La Belle Dame Sans Merci Loro gridavano La Belle Dame Sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!" hath thee = has you Ti ha reso schiavo! XI 'I saw their starved lips in the gloam Vidi le loro labbra affamate nel crepuscolo With horrid warning gapd wide, Con orribile grido spalancarsi, (lett. aprirsi ampie) And I awoke and found me here, E mi svegliai e mi trovai qui, On the cold hill's side. Sul fianco della fredda collina. XII 'And this is why I sojourn here E questo il perch soggiorno (vivo) qui Alone and palely loitering, Vagando solo e pallido,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake, Sebbene il giunco sia avvizzito (in riva) al lago, And no birds sing.' E nessun uccello canta. (John Keats) 1. Read stanzas 1 to 3 a. What is the setting of the poem? The setting is medieval (the world of knights and ladies) and mysterious (there are only vague references to place and time) b. How is the knight presented? He is alone, looks tired and sorrowful and has a lily on his brow and a withering rose on his cheeks(i.e. He is pale and ill-looking). c. What flowers are used to describe the knight ? What are they usually associated with? The lily is the symbol of purity and chastity (used for example for the Virgin Mary and many saints) the rose, instead, is a symbol of sensual love and
passion. (Notice that it is withering). The message of the two flowers is contrasting. 2. Go to stanza to stanza 8 a. What does the lady look like ? She is beautiful, elegant with long hair and wild eyes. She is said to be a fairys child, with supernatural qualities. b. What does she do to the knight? Where does she bring him? She accepts the knights presents, looks at him as if in love and then she gives him strange things to eat and takes him to her cave. 3. Read to the end. a. What does the knight dream about? He dreams of pale kings and princes who warn him that the lady has enslaved him . The vision is horrible because they all look dead. b. What do we understand from the end of the poem? We understand that the knight is prisoner of his condition and cannot free himself from the power of the lady. He lives in a still life, where there is no movement and no vital energy.
c. Is the story realistic, symbolic or fantastic? The story is clearly fantastic and symbolic. There is no reference to a welldetermined setting, with characters identified by their names.The setting is vaguely medieval, and the world of fairy tales is mentioned explicitly in many cases (ll. 14, 24, 29). Apparently, this is the story of the tragic love of a mortal man for a supernatural woman in the presence of a bleak (= desolate) indifferent or dead nature (cold hills side, no birds sing); a tragic love because ... c. no reunion is possible between them, except through the mans death. However, the knight, the Lady and the cold hill side can be interpreted as symbols. La Belle Dame may symbolise: poetry love beauty art imagination illusion The knight may embody the poet who suffers in his attempt to devote himself to poetry through which he hopes to render beauty and truth. The Grotto may stand for: the secluded, magic world of Imagination, Poetry and Art.
The Horse: might suggest Pegasus (In Greek mythology, a winged horse that was the son of Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa). It could also be seen as the means through which the poet passes from the world of reality to the world of imagination Kings and princes might represent reason, which feels deceived by imagination. The Cold hill side can be a symbol of reality and everyday life. In conclusion this poem could be read as a metaphor of the condition of the poet : poetry requires total and complete devotion, and the poet lives secluded in the magic world of imagination, thus losing contact with reality, with the world of everyday life. So he feels alienated from his time, from his society, which he perceives as hostile to him. Some critics have also seen a hint at the poets own unhappy love for Fanny Brawne, whom he could not marry because he was ill and poor, so his love remained just a dream. This might be linked to the more happy, happy love of the two young people in the decoration of the Grecian Urn, whose love is forever warm and happy because it has never been fulfilled (= satisfied). This poem anticipates the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolist poets for the languid atmosphere; the symbolic value of flowers; the slow gestures; the strange name of the unknown woman; the evocation of painful mystery; the pictorial quality of the verse. GUIDED ANALYSIS 4. Consider the structure.
Keats reproduces a common feature of folk ballads by putting the poem in the question-and-answer form. a. The first three quatrains are addressed to the knight. b. The remaining ones are the knights reply. 5. Consider the language a. Why does Keats use so many repetitions? Because the use of the repetitions is typical of the ballad style he has chosen and it is aimed at creating an atmosphere of magic and a suspension of rationality (the willing suspension of disbelief theorized by Coleridge). b. Is there any communication between the knight and the lady? No, there is no real communication. At first there is only an exchange of languid looks, which leads the knight to think that she loves him; when she declares her love for him she does it in language strange (l.27), which seems the effect of the roots eaten by the knight . At the end of the poem the knight is alone, while the lady has disappeared. c. Love is described in a sensuous language. What physical senses are involved in the description? Sight: I see a lily on thy brow (l.9); I saw pale kings (l.37); I saw their starvd lips (l. 41);
Hearing: made sweet moan (l.20); sing / a Fairys song (ll. 23-24); in language strange she said (l.27); sighd full sore (l.30); They cried (l.39). smell: fragrant zone (l.18); touch: moist and fever dew (l10); I shut her wild, wild eyes / With kisses four (ll. 31-32); taste: roots of relish sweet, / And honey wild, and manna dew (ll.2526). GUIDED SUMMARY 6. Complete with the words given taste ballad supernatural spectral hypnotic La Belle Dame Sans Merci belongs to the supernatural line of the Romantic poetry. The sensuous magic created by the use of verse, which produces a hypnotic atmosphere, is very important. The poem stands in the ballad tradition and shows a taste for medieval themes and forms. The knight has a mysterious
love story with a lady, who turns out to be a witch and leaves him alone and sad in a spectral atmosphere. WRITING NES The supernatural is a very relevant component of Romantic poetry. Compare how it is presented in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge and in La Bell Dame Sans Merci by Keats. (Maximum 200 words). Both Coleridge and Keats were fascinated by the supernatural, which was considered by Coleridge as a major source of poetry in Biographia Literaria. The supernatural is attractive for Keats, since it takes the form of a beautiful lady who persuades the knight to follow her by pretending to love him. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner it is less attractive, since the Wedding-guest is frightened by the ghost-like appearance of the Mariner but has no other alternative than listen to his story. The contact with the supernatural deeply changes those who experience it. The Weddingguest wakes a wiser and sadder man after listening to the Mariner, while Keats knight seems obliged to loiter alone and palely in a withered countryside with no signs of life around. The effects of the contact with the supernatural world are good only on the surface: at the end it carries with it a destructive force. In La Belle Dame Sans Merci the knight survives in a world inhabited by pale figures of ghosts; The Wedding-guest seems unable to take part in the joy of the wedding because the experience he has heard of has changed his attitude to life. (196 words).
Traditional Ballad 4-line stanzas rhyming abab; stress pattern : 4-3-4-3; story-line: simple and short; narrative technique: narrator and direct speech; subjects: universal themes (love, death, revenge) supernatural themes (ghosts); language : use of repetition.
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