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La Belle Dame Sans Merci

John Keats is one of the most studied and admired of British poets.  Keats is considered one of the greatest Romantic poets of all time for creating such stunning masterpieces. His poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci (meaning “the beautiful woman without mercy”) is a exquisite and captivating poem that I first learned of through a vampire book. While some may argue that this poem isn’t about vampires at all, others may disagree, after all poetry is always open to multiple interpretations.

Original version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 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.

– Moonlight

John KeatsLa Belle Dame Sans Mercivampire poemvampire poetry

Moonlight • April 9, 2010


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Comments

  1. vampires
  2. Christine April 10, 2010 - 6:19 pm Reply

    Lovely! And there is something decidedly vampiric in that beautiful vamp without mercy!

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