La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats

Full Text and Word List

1. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,

2. Alone and palely loitering?

3. The sedge has withered from the lake,

4. And no birds sing.

5. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!

6. So haggard and so woe-begone?

7. The squirrel's granary is full,

8. And the harvest's done.

9. I see a lily on thy brow,

10. With anguish moist and fever-dew,

11. And on thy cheeks a fading rose

12. Fast withereth too.

13. I met a lady in the meads,

14. Full beautiful, a faery's child;

15. Her hair was long, her foot was light,

16. And her eyes were wild.

17. I made a garland for her head,

18. And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;

19. She looked at me as she did love,

20. And made sweet moan.

21. I set her on my pacing steed

22. And nothing else saw all day long,

23. For sidelong would she bend, and sing

24. A faery's song.

25. She found me roots of relish sweet,

26. And honey wild, and manna-dew,

27. And sure in language strange she said—

28. "I love thee true."

29. She took me to her elfin grot,

30. And there she wept and sighed full sore,

31. And there I shut her wild wild eyes

32. With kisses four.

33. And there she lullèd me asleep

34. And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—

35. The latest dream I ever dreamt

36. On the cold hill's side.

37. I saw pale kings and princes too,

38. Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

39. They cried—"La Belle Dame sans Merci

40. Hath thee in thrall!"

41. I saw their starvèd lips in the gloam,

42. With horrid warning gaped wide,

43. And I awoke and found me here,

44. On the cold hill's side.

45. And this is why I sojourn here

46. Alone and palely loitering,

47. Though the sedge is withered from the lake,

48. And no birds sing.

Vocabulary List

Belle - (noun) A beautiful woman.

Dame - (noun) A woman, often referring to a lady or noblewoman.

sans Merci - (French) - Without mercy.

knight-at-arms - (noun) A fully armed and equipped knight, a soldier.

sedge - (noun) A type of grass-like plant often found near water.

palely - (adverb) In a pale or faint manner, lacking color or liveliness.

lily - (noun) A type of flowering plant known for its pure white petals.

starved - (adjective) Extremely thin or emaciated due to hunger or suffering.

elfin - (adjective) Relating to or resembling an elf, a small, supernatural creature.

garlands - (noun) Wreaths or decorative arrangements of flowers or leaves.

fragrant - (adjective) Having a pleasant and sweet-smelling aroma.

meads - (noun) Meadows, open fields or pastures.

wept - (verb) Past tense of "weep," meaning to cry.

pale - (adjective) Light in color, lacking vibrancy.

woe-begone - (adjective) Appearing sad, sorrowful, or deeply troubled.

squirrel's granary - (noun) A storage place for nuts, like those collected by squirrels.

grot - (noun) A small, picturesque cave.

forlorn - (adjective) Abandoned, lonely, or in a desolate condition.

haggard - (adjective) Looking exhausted, gaunt, or wild in appearance.

elf - (noun) A mythical creature with pointed ears and magical abilities.