Sunday, 10 July 2011

La belle dame sans merci

Sir F. Dicksee (The first live PR painting I ever saw)

By John Keats

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.

J.W. Waterhouse

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. 

Frank Cadogan Cowper