~Compare Keats to two other pre-war poems. Comment on love, style and form~

Essay by ulostmyknickers January 2005

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In comparing Keats 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' to 'First Love' you can see many similarities. Both were written in the 17th Century and are written in the style of their day. There are many illustrations of love through nature and everything is portrayed as beautiful and natural, with knights of shining armour. A strong similarity is the description of the beauty of the women. Both poets compare the cheeks to a flower. In 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', 'on thy cheeks a fading rose' and in 'First Love' her face bloomed 'like a sweet flower'. Similarly, both poems are written in ballad form and told as a story, very different to the 15th century sonnet of Shakespeare's 'Shall I Compare Thee' in which he is writing in a monologue style, addressing someone else. In Contrast to 'First Love' and 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', there is use of archaic language; 'hath', 'wandr'st', 'thou', 'grow'st' and he uses iambic pentameter which is typical of his style.

However, Keats' poem is different to the others as he includes images of dreams and a romantic, magical fantasy element when the woman is described as 'faery's child' and when she took him to her 'elfin grot'. His poem is much more like a fairytale, very different to Shakespeare's style.

Overall, the tone of La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'First Love' is pathos and sadness is shown in the repetitive language that suggests death and coldness, 'death-pale', 'my face turned pale as deadly pale'. These two poems end more sorrowfully compared to 'Shall I compare Thee', with an end to love 'my heart has left its dwelling-place' and 'no birds sing'. 'No Birds sing' again is showing the use of nature to show the feelings of...