Monday 7 March 2011

Poetic Ponders (3)

Poetic Ponders is a feature run by the lovely Sophie of So Many Books, So Little Time, where we share poems we love. As I'm a bit of a poem fan (when I understand them), I decided to join in!

This week, I'm sharing...

La Belle Dame Sans Merci 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.

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.

I'm a bit of an art fan, especially of the pre-raphaelite paintings, as you may have guessed from last week's post. So when I find a beautiful painting and read it's based on a poem, I have to read it. And this one I love! The title means "The beautiful lady without pity." Another femme-fatale, I know, but I do love these poems that have an element of fantasy to them.
This poem is the version that was published in 1820, but it's not the original that was written in 1819. You read both and see the differences here. You can also read an analysis here. And below is a painting of the same title inspired by the poem by Frank Dicksee.

la belle dame sans merci by fran dicksee


  1. Jo - thank you so much for broadening my horizons. I really enjoyed the poem and the painting is just beautiful.

  2. My friend is a huge Keats fan and he read this out to me and I fell in love with it. Good choice, Jo!

  3. Emma - No problem! I broaden my own horizons just by taking part in this feature. Always searching out poems I can share in future. I'm not the brightest person going, and don't always get what poems are talking about (hence why I include a analysis link), but when I get it... it's the idea along with the rhythm I love :)

    Sophie - Thank you! I do love strong fantastical women in my poems! Lol.