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The two poems, "First Love," by John Clare and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," by John Keats have a similar theme, unrequited love. Compare and contrast the poets' effective use of language and form to convey their ideas effectively.

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Introduction

06/02/2003 The two poems, "First Love," by John Clare and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," by John Keats have a similar theme, unrequited love. Compare and contrast the poets' effective use of language and form to convey their ideas effectively. In the poems "First Love," by John Clare and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," by John Keats both poets deal with unrequited love. In Clare's poem, it is the love of the knight for the woman, which is not returned. This is very similar to Keats' poem where it is a knight again whose love for a woman is not returned. Both poems portray romantic poetry to us. In the pre-twentieth centuries romance was imaginative love like that shown in Clare's poem. This type of romance is similarly shown in Keats' poem. In Keats' poem, we also see modern romance, which is romantic love. Clare's poem is set in contemporary times; he is recounting the experience of falling in love for the first time: "I ne'er was struck before that hour With love so sudden and so sweet." This makes it clear to us that the knight in the poem is falling in love for the first time. Keats poem on the other hand is set in the times of King Arthur, which was the thirteenth century. ...read more.

Middle

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all" This can finally be linked to the use of the word "palely" at the end of the poem: "And this is why I sojourn here Alone and palely loitering," This imagery used by Keats is similar to that which is used by Clare: "My face turned pale as deadly pale," Although in some parts of the poem the imagery can be seen as similar, some of the imagery used is also different. It is different because in Keats' poem the imagery is often literal: "She took me to her elfin grot," While in Clare's poem the imagery is often metaphorical: "And stole my heart away complete." This can be linked to the form of the poem. Clare sets his poem in every day life and feels as though his heart has been stolen. This puts a literal interpretation on a romantic clich´┐Ż. Clare then extends this metaphor both literally and metaphorically. Keats poem is different to Clare's poem because it is written in the form of a ballad, which tells an Arthurian tale in which a knight falls into the clutches of a cold-hearted enchantress: "'La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!'" ...read more.

Conclusion

In contrast to Clare Keats uses the traditional form of a ballad where each stanza contains four lines and rhymes on every other line. This makes Keats poem very lyrical and the poem forms a warning against love. The use of "sans merci" is very significant because it is clear to us that La Belle Dame is either a sorceress or enchantress. By using "sans merci", we see that she does not have mercy for the men which she puts under her spell as she quickly loses interest after they are in her clutches. She is always looking out for new conquests, relishing her power over the men. No one can resist her charms not even the most powerful of people such as kings, princes, and brave warriors. In both poems, both of the poets John Clare and John Keats give us their similar views on love causing illness and death. We see this as realistic as in both poems the poets use literal and metaphorical imagery to persuade us that love causes illness and death. In Keats' poem, the knight becomes pale as if he is ill which enforces Keats' view of love as an illness. In Clare's poem, he has lost the ability to love as if he is ill. ...read more.

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