On Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci

(Objective questions) 1. What does “La Belle la Belle” mean? Ans: “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” is French phrse which means in English “a beautiful lady without mercy”. 2. How does Keats describe the Knight-at-arms in La Belle Dame Sans Merci? Ans: In La Belle la Belle the poet sees a knight wandering alone. He is pale and haggard, and his face shows signs of agony. He has been deserted by a fairy after being seduced to her cave. 3. “The sedge has wither’d from the lake, And no birds sing.” Why does the poet refer to this kind of natural setting? Ans: The sedge is kind of long grass growing by the margins of lakes and rivers. It dies down in winter. With the onset of winter the birds have either gone away or stopped singing. Keats’s purpose here is to create an atmosphere of desolation and deprivation. The condition in the natural world has been used to refer to the condition of desolation and deprivation in the human world. 4. “The squirrel’s granary is ful, And the harvest’s done.” Why does the poet say so? Ans: During the period of harvest the squirrel collects grains for keeping a store of grain for the winter. This points to the fact that winter—a season of suffering and sorrow, has started. The incident in the natural world has been used to refer to the incident of suffering and sorrow in the human world. 5. What do “a lily on thy brow” and “a fading rose” suggest in Keats’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci? Ans: The poet encounters a knight wandering aimlessly. His face looks as pale as a lily, and there are drops of sweat created by the agony of nightmares. In this his face looks like a fading rose. 6. “She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, manna dew” Explain. Ans: The knight narrates here how, after his seduction, he was taken to the cave of the fairy, who drugged him with strange roots of sweet taste, gave him honey collected from wild bees, and dropped in his mouth the sweet juice of the mythical plant manna, mentioned in the Bible. 7. “She took me to her elfin grot” What does “elfin grot” mean? Ans: ‘Elfin’ is the adjective of ‘elf’, which means a kind of fairy. It was supposed that fairies lived grotto or small cave.


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