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La Belle Dame sans Merci

A Ballad

Original version

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
    Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
    And no birds sing.
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.
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 faery'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 looked 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 faery'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 sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
    With kisses four.
And there she lulled me asleep
    And there I dreamed - Ah! woe betide! -
The latest dream I ever dreamt
    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!'
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.
And this is why I sojourn here
    Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
    And no birds sing.

Published version

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
    Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge is wither'd 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 lily 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 look'd 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 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 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 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.

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