Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats (1795–1821)
O WHAT 1 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,        5
  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;        10
And on thy cheeks 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,        15
  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.        20
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,        25
  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,        30
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        35
  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!’        40
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-side.
And this is why I sojourn here        45
  Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the Lake,
  And no birds sing.
Note 1. Keats. In a letter of Ap. 18, 1819. [back]

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