La Belle Dame sans Merci (original, unsourced)

For other versions of this work, see La Belle Dame sans Merci.
La Belle Dame sans Merci
by John Keats
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Illustration by W. J. Neatby



O what can ail thee, knight at arms,
     Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd 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 look'd 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 fairy'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 sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
     With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep,
     And there I dream'd—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
     On the cold hill's 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 starv'd 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 wither'd from the lake,
     And no birds sing.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.