John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Original version )


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

Oh 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 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 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 lulled 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 gaped 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.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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  • Rookie - 0 Points Cassaries Johnson (3/11/2014 11:16:00 AM)

    This is one of my favorite poems. Reading it again after my first and only relationship, I can relate very well to the speaker.

    However, when I read it for the first time in my English literature class in high school, it was brought up that the lady in the poem could be a symbol of health, as the poet was suffering from an illness. Still, I like thit and it it reminds me of fond- and not so fond- mempories. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Khundana Brahma (2/24/2012 11:07:00 AM)

    I have read this poem in 1990. Being fascinated by this poem I have made a PPT for my future kids with a very beautiful picturization so that I can feel this poem till eternity and also make them know about the beauty of the writings! (Report) Reply

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