Representative Poetry Online
  Poet Index   Poem Index   Random   Search  
  Introduction   Timeline   Calendar   Glossary   Criticism   Bibliography  
  RPO   Canadian Poetry   UTEL  
by Name
by Date
by Title
by First Line
by Last Line
Short poem

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: 1820
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.646.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/20

Composition date: 1819
Form: Ballad Stanzas
Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by John Keats