John Keats’ poem La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad describes a pallid knight wandering around a lake. As the knight describes La Belle Dame, he explains to the reader what the poem is implicitly saying; an enchanting woman stole a knight’s heart, but did not stay with him.
The knight describes the beautiful woman that enchants him as, “fully beautiful- a faerie’s child.” This line tells the reader that she may have the mischievous nature of a fairy, and most definitely the alluring beauty of one. Like fairies, sirens enchant men, and there is a possible connection to sirens in this line. In the next lines, the knight describes her long hair, and wild eyes. In the poem, her long, loose hair symbolizes her passionate behavior towards men, and specifically this knight.
In the lines preceding this, the knight sees, “on thy cheek a fading rose / fast withereth too.” He sees this rose on her, and it represents La Belle’s secret and taboo message for the knight. When he says that it withers quickly, the poem foreshadows her intent to leave him after she has had her way with him.
In the fifth stanza, the knight presents handmade gifts to La Belle Dame, who not only accepts the gifts, but returns the sentiment with a look of love. The following line is, “and made sweet moan.” This line indicates sexual interaction between them, and is the moment they become lovers.
For the next four stanzas, the knight sees nothing but La Belle, who tells him, “I love thee true.” Though she tells him she loves him, this is not an indication that she’ll stay faithful to him, or with him at all. She does none, and he awakes on a hillside, alone. Thus, the poem sends the message that this woman, (if not all women), are untrustworthy despite their displays of affection.