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"La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by John Keats (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

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Published on Aug 11, 2008

A reading of Keat's cautionary tale on the danger of picking up strange ladies. A "zone" is like a girdle

The eponymous lady's name is from Middle English and shouldn't be pronounced as if it were French. "La Belle Dame Sanz Mercy" was thought to be by Chaucer in Keats' day, but it's by Richard Roz (Born 1429) who translated it from the French of Alain Chartier. Don't bother to read it, it's tedious.

Keats' version was in 1819. The first published version started "Ah, what can ail thee wretched wight".

Keats' state of mind when he wrote it was influenced by Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. He wrote to Fanny Brawne. "My greatest torment since I have known you has been my fear of your being a little inclined to the Cressida." Cressida was a model of inconstancy and decetifulness.

So maybe Keats was afraid that women would bewitch men with their beauty and promies of love, then deceive them and make them miserable.

It has been suggested, perhaps by the wrong sort of feminists, that the Knight raped the lady in her elfin grot - because she wept and sighed full sore - and is suffering his rightful punishment. Well, she was asking for it wasn't she? Leading a chap on like that... and what about all the other Kings and Princes that had fallen for the same schtick?^^

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