Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I Sojourn Here

La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats

O what 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,
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 fairy'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 look'd 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 fairy'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 sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her 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
On the cold hill's 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 starv'd lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And Iawoke 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 wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

3 comments:

  1. << 'No, no birds', said Gollum. 'Nice birds!' He licked his teeth. 'No birds here. There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools. Lots of things, lots of nasty things. No birds', he ended sadly. Sam looked at him with distaste. >>

    Tom Shippey uses Keats' phrase "On the cold hill's side" to title on of the chapters in The Road to Middle-earth.




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