It's been far too long since we did a Keats...
(Poem #182) La Belle Dame Sans Merci
O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge is 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 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 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 sideways would she lean, 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 sad eyes With kisses four. And there she lulled me asleep, And there I dream'd --- 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 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.
from Life, Letters and Literary Remains, 1848. ... not that I'm a great fan of 19th century poetry in general, but I've always liked Keats. And 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' is my second favouritest poem by him (the bestest, of course, is the incomparable 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer', Minstrels poem #12) (yes, it's been some time). If I had to name one poet of sheer unadulterated natural genius (as opposed to skill or craftsmanship it would probably be Keats. Perhaps more than any other writer before or since , he had the ability to distil in its purest form that quality called 'poetry' in his verse. He doesn't use ornate or flowery language; his rhymes and rhythms are often less than perfect; his themes can be ordinary. And yet his words are just magical - pure music. thomas.  always excepting Shakespeare [Links] Of course, poem #12