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John Keats (1795 - 1821)


La Belle Dame Sans Merci



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 lilly 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 light,

  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 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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