La Belle Dame sans Merci


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

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