John Keats (1795-1821)
La Belle Dame sans Merci
1Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
2 Alone and palely loitering;
3The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
4 And no birds sing.
5Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
6 So haggard and so woe-begone?
7The squirrel's granary is full,
8 And the harvest's done.
9I see a lily on thy brow,
10 With anguish moist and fever dew;
11And on thy cheek a fading rose
12 Fast withereth too.
13I met a lady in the meads
14 Full beautiful, a faery's child;
15Her hair was long, her foot was light,
16 And her eyes were wild.
17I set her on my pacing steed,
18 And nothing else saw all day long;
19For sideways would she lean, and sing
20 A faery's song.
21I made a garland for her head,
22 And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
23She look'd at me as she did love,
24 And made sweet moan.
25She found me roots of relish sweet,
26 And honey wild, and manna dew;
27And sure in language strange she said,
28 I love thee true.
29She took me to her elfin grot,
30 And there she gaz'd and sighed deep,
31And there I shut her wild sad eyes--
32 So kiss'd to sleep.
33And there we slumber'd on the moss,
34 And there I dream'd, ah woe betide,
35The latest dream I ever dream'd
36 On the cold hill side.
37I saw pale kings, and princes too,
38 Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
39Who cry'd--"La belle Dame sans merci
40 Hath thee in thrall!"
41I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
42 With horrid warning gaped wide,
43And I awoke, and found me here
44 On the cold hill side.
45And this is why I sojourn here
46 Alone and palely loitering,
47Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
48 And no birds sing.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: John Keats, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1970. PR 4830 E20AB Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.646.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/20
Form: Ballad Stanzas
Other poems by John Keats