August 18, 2009

La Belle Dame Sans Merci


Now I don't know nuthin' about poetry but I do know of the 1893 painting above by John William Waterhouse - I gave it as a card to my husband Pup years ago.

Apparently there are two versions of John Keats' famous poem - this one is the original version is found in a letter to Keats's brother, George, dated April 21, 1819.

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

4 comments:

Brian Miller said...

a wonderful picture married with words that ring true in the heart...thank you for this one.

Candie Bracci said...

YES!I love that!!

giulia said...

Poor John. "Here lies one whose name is writ in water." Yes, I have made the pilgrimage to the English cemetery in Rome. More times than is necessary, friends might (do) add. Sniff. (I'm seriously sniffing.)

Look at Ode to a Nightingale near end, too, if you've not recently. It might be same 'deceiving' imp (or 'elf' depending on volume edition).

Haven't seen that Waterhouse in so long. Thanks.....now someone help me decide on a laptop, please,please. Please?

Rouchswalwe said...

That last line, "and no birds sing," strikes the heart.