The knight finds himself deeply in love with the woman before she lulls him to sleep. But when the knight has a dream with the “pale kings”, “princes” and “pale warriors” who were all “death-pale”, they tell him, “la belle dame sans merci hath thee in thrall”. Then the knight wakes finding himself alone “on the cold hill side”. The woman seduced and tempted the knight towards her, making him forget about his duties, but when the knight is truly in love with her she leaves him, alone, desolate and “cold”.
This leads to the lone “loitering” of the knight, who is maybe on an endless journey trying to find “la belle dame”. He is now also pale, like the warriors, kings and princes in his dreams, all because of “la belle dame” who will not feed their “starved lips” which want more of her.
The knights cheeks are like “a fading rose” as if the life force within him is being drained out, and that he will be just like the pale and once mighty warriors, kings and princes who “la belle dame” has conquered and destroyed. The beginning off the poem, apart from the first line, is almost exactly the same as the ending, this tells us about the knights never ending journey off finding the woman, he will always be trying to find her for “starving lips”.
Keats own muse for this poem could be a woman like the “belle dame” who did the same to him, as the “belle dame” did to the knight. When Keats had written this poem he had been involved in a relationship with “Fanny Browne” who against his friends wishes distracted Keats from his poetry but they were not able to marry because of Keats financial and physical problems (he developed tuberculosis like his mother and father and died at the age of 26).
Keats writes the poem in ballad form to make the words flow through more, also the ends of line 2 and 4 rhyme. He also repeats words like “wild” and “pale” in the poem, which are really the key words behind the poem, how the woman is wild and uncontrollable and what her effects on the knight are.
In verse 4 the knight described her with lots of l’s and f’s, “lady”, “long”, “light, “full”, “faery”, “foot”, this shows her apparent softness and gentleness in character, which the knight is bewitched by. The poem is also set in medieval times to make it seem more like a fairytale and French is used to make the poem more romantic and mysterious.
The love and loss in the poem seems only to be one sided, this maybe because of what Keats experienced in his life with Fanny Browne but he tries to cover it up by setting the poem in a completely different time to his. The love the knight feels is short lasted, and the loss and obsession takes over, he looses all his life to the devotion to a mysterious and supernatural woman.