La Belle Dame sans Merci

Poem

The poem is simple in structure with twelve stanzas of four lines each in an ABCB rhyme scheme. It employs a brachycatalectic metric, shortening the end of each verse by two syllables. An excerpt from the revised version follows:

.mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,     Alone and palely loitering; The sedge is wither'd from the lake,     And no birds sing. ... 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. ... She took me to her elfin grot,     And there she gaz'd and sighed deep, And there I shut her wild sad eyes—     So kiss'd to sleep. And there we slumber'd on the moss     And there I dream'd, ah woe betide, The latest dream I ever dream'd     On the cold hill side. I saw pale kings, and princes too,     Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; Who cry'd—"La belle Dame sans mercy     Hath thee in thrall!" I saw their starv'd lips in the gloom     With horrid warning gaped wide, And I awoke, and found me here     On the cold hill side. And this is why I sojourn here     Alone and palely loitering, Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,     And no birds sing.[4]

— Stanzas 1, 4, 8-12

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.