A Summary and Analysis of John Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ (‘the beautiful lady without mercy’) is one of John Keats’s best-loved and most widely anthologised poems; after his odes, it may well be his most famous. But is this poem with its French title a mere piece of pseudo-medieval escapism, summoning the world of chivalrous knights and beautiful but bewitching women, or does it have a deeper meaning?

You can read ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ here before proceeding to our summary below (it might be helpful to have the poem open in a separate tab so you can follow the poem and summary together).

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