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Marc Fishman *     ~ La Belle Dame sans Merci ~

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

- John Keats

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
   Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is withered from the lake,
   And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
   So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
   And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
   With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
   Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
   Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
   And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
   And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
   And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
   And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
   A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
   And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
   ‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her Elfin grot,
   And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
   With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
   And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
   On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
   Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
   Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
   With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
   On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
   Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
   And no birds sing.

* Apologies to the artist - liberties taken with the image

Page last modified on November 13, 2022, at 03:19 PM