La Belle Dame Sans Merci

by John Keats

A ballad.

I.

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

II.

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.

III.

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

IV.

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.

V.

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

V.

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

VII.

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

VIII.

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild,wild eyes
With kisses four.

IX.

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd -- Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.

X.

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!

XI.

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

XII.

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

1819

Source:

The poetical works of John Keats.
Copyright 1871
James Miller, 647 Broadway, New York
 
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