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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

by John Keats

Dreams and Sleep

Symbol Analysis

The entire poem could sound like a dream sequence or a fantasy, with all the fairy ladies and "elfin grots." But there's an explicit dream sequence described by the knight at the close of the poem, which brings up questions about consciousness and the nature of reality, and other things that keep us up at night.

  • Line 33: The word "lulled" is such a sleepy-sounding word that it's almost onomatopoeia: it sounds like what it's supposed to mean.
  • Lines 34-5: The word "dream" gets repeated three times in two lines. This can't be an accident. Is the knight wanting to insist that the vision he saw was, in fact, a dream, and not a real event? Is he insisting too much?
  • Line 40: The harsh repetition of the th sound in this line is enough to wake anyone up. The consonance of "Hath thee in thrall!" is what ends the knight's dream. In the next stanza, he sees their mouths open after having "cried" their "warning," and then he wakes up.

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