This is a challenge that I took upon myself. Not to show myself to be the equal of Keats but to go from his ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci to John William Waterhouse’s painting of the Keats’ ballad to my sonnet and still retain, at least, some of the emotion and the story. For those of you that are not familiar with the Keats work I attempt to explain how I pulled the sonnet together to imagine the pain that the young Keats felt knowing he would soon die.
To pull you the reader into the poem I use a device called alliteration. You will notice in the first line the W’s to give the feeling of the cold winter wind blowing. In the second line is S’s are used for that nasty white stuff Snow even though there isn’t a drop in the painting. Just to make you feel cold. The description of the corn stalks are used to show how weak the knight is. They are thin and old while he is young and should have no problem working his way through the field, yet he falters. The state of the corn also confirm that it is winter and it has taken its toll on the knight who falls to his knees only to see a vision. In the first stanza keep the last word HEAVENLY constantly in your mind. In the painting Waterhouse makes her appear quite EARTHY with those subtle tones. So what do we have in this first stanza? A knight who is close to death and meets possibly the girl of his dreams. The scene is set, will this beauty save this knight? Read on.
In the second stanza this vision of beauty tells the knight to get out of his armor, strip naked and the heat of her body will provide heat to his. To ensure him that she is real she wants him to touch her. It appears that she is making a good case. When it is cold don’t we have a desire to huddle?
We now come to the all-important third stanza. This is where see really see what is going on, well maybe, if the words really mean what we think they mean. Now in the first line this vision of beauty wants to show more than she is real, she want to show him all of her real estate. In the second line you could read it as copulation. She claims that such an act would relieve him of all of his pains from battle which is reinforced in line three. It appears she is saying the he would get just a feeling that only carnal love can. In line four I attempt to reinforce in your mind the thought of copulation again with the word CLIMAX when the word end would work just fine.
Finally we have a couplet, the epilog in a simple way. She was an allusion, she was death. What she was saying was true, all physical pain ends in death. We are free of our mortal bodies, it is only the soul that survives like she. The reality is knight lies still under a burial cloth while his body is anointed. Maybe just maybe sometime in the future the two spirits, that of Keats and Fanny Brawne were reunited.
I hope you got pleasure out of reading my poem and hope that my explaining how I wrote it will be a hook for you to want to read more poetry.