La Belle Dame Sans Merci

John Keats 1795 (Moorgate) – 1821 (Rome)



Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
      Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is withered from the lake,
      And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
      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 cheek 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 ligh,
      And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
      And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
      A faery's song.

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.

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 gazed and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild, sad eyes---
      So kissed to sleep.

And there we slumbered on the moss,
      And there I dreamed, ah! woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dreamed
      On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
      Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who 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 side.

And that is why I sojourn here,
      Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
      And no birds sing.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 13, 2023

1:27 min read
201

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABcB Adxd xefe xghg xibi jdhd xeje akxk xlxL emfm xlnL nBcB
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,591
Words 290
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

John Keats

John Keats was an English Romantic poet. more…

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