La Belle Dame sans Merci


O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
alone and palely loitering ?
the sedge has 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 hasvest’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 faery’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 fragant 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 thay all ;
they cried – ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci thee
hath 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 sojurn here,
alone and palely loitering,
though the sedge is withered from the lake,
and no birds sing.


( John Keats )