The poem starts with the speaker who encounters a wounded knight on the side of the road. The knight is in a pathetic physical and emotional state. He seems deeply troubled. His complexion affects a deadly pallor as if he was near death. He assumes a distressed, languid and crestfallen demeanor. His appearance is a far cry from the conventional heroic image of knights. The unknown speaker seems to be deeply concerned for the knight and inquires after the cause of his troubles. From that point on, the knight starts telling the speaker his story and what happened to him. The knight is the sole narrator of his experience. His version of events can therefore be biased or untruthful.
The knight tells the speaker that he encountered a beautiful fairy in the woods with whom he felt in love with. This mysterious fairy lady has long hair and light foot. There seems to be a supernatural aura about this lady because she speaks an unidentified language and assumes a wild expression in her eyes. He started courting her, making her garlands and letting her ride his horse. The knight forgets all about his duties as a knight and spends his entire day in the company of this fairy lady.
The fairy invited him to her cave where she offers him wild food consisting honey, roots and manna-dew.The knight was lulled into a sleep. In his sleep, he saw all the knights and men the fairy seduced and that they were all dead. The knight then woke up alone, finding himself abandoned by the fairy lady. The knight is totally devastated by the disappearance of the fairy. Heartbroken and emotionally depleted, the knight loiters alone, mourning the loss of the mysterious fairy.