La Belle Dame Sans Merci


I

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

                          II

 

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

                          III

 

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

                          IV

 

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.

                          V

 

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.

                          VI

 

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.

                          VII

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said –
‘I love thee true’.

                          VIII

 

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.

                          IX

 

And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed – Ah! woe betide! –
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

                          X

 

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!’

                          XI

 

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

                          XII

 

And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

John Keats

the King of Elflands Daughter


Who are you, he said,
    to the woman before his eyes
    I did not see you coming,
    and so I’m quite surprised
    To find that I can see the sky,
    looking through your eyes
    
    I cam across the void, said she,
    Yes, I’m a stranger here
    And I have need this moment,
    to whisper in your ear
    A favour I would ask of thee,
    and so will you draw near?
    
    She breathed herself like whiskey
    into his waiting brain,
    All in amaze he turned and asked
    the lady of her name,
    You know me from your waking dreams
    of when you were a boy,
    I am the king of Elfland’s Daughter.
    
    Now friend, will you drop everything
    and come away with me,
    Along the rocky cliffs so high
    and then across the sea
    Come and join our faerie band
    in our dance among the trees
    
    I will, he said, and took her hand
    and so they journeyed far,
    And called a dance together
    between the daylight and the dark,
    And if you should go seeking them
    you’ll find them dancing still
    
    
    She breathed herself like whiskey
    into his waiting heart,
    And in the end it mattered not
    they came from worlds apart,
    He a mortal man and she
    quite something else again,
    She was the King of Elfland’s Daughter.

Mark Unger