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Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology)

1. John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819)

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we read through John Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, focusing in particular on: (i) the idea of Keats as a ‘Romantic’ poet; (ii) the identity of the woman at the centre of the poem – is she real?; (iii) the themes of repentance and regret; and (iv) the balance between fertility (“The squirrel’s granary is full, | And the harvest’s done”) and infertility (“The sedge has withered from the lake, | And no birds sing”).

Course

In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores the fifteen poems that make up the ‘Relationships’ cluster for GCSE English Literature (Edexcel). Each poem is read in full, with a short commentary highlighting aspects of language, style, themes, motif, and so on. In the case of Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, for example, we think about the themes of repentance and regret and the balance between fertility and infertility. When we come to Joanna Baillie’s ‘A Child to his Sick Grandfather’, we focus on the relationship between grandfather and grandchild and the language and rhythm of the poem.

The poems discussed in this course are:
1. John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819)
2. Joanna Baillie, A Child to his Sick Grandfather (1790)
3. Lord Byron, She Walks in Beauty (1814)
4. William Wordsworth, A Complaint (1807)
5. Thomas Hardy, Neutral Tones (1898)
6. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 (‘How do I love thee?’) (1850)
7. Robert Browning, My Last Duchess (1842)
8. Wendy Cope, First Date – He and First Date – She (2012)
9. Carol Ann Duffy, Valentine (1993)
10. Elizabeth Jennings, One Flesh (1966)
11. John Cooper Clarke, I Wanna Be Yours (1982)
12. Jen Hadfield, Love’s Dog (2008)
13. Vernon Scannell, Nettles (1980)
14. Simon Armitage, The Manhunt (2008)
15. Ingrid de Kok, My Father Would Not Show Us (1988)

Lecturer

John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2019, March 08). Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) - John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819) [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/relationships-edexcel-poetry-anthology/john-keats-la-belle-dame-sans-merci-1819

MLA style

McRae, John. "Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) – John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 Mar 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/relationships-edexcel-poetry-anthology/john-keats-la-belle-dame-sans-merci-1819

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