Loreena McKennitt - La Belle Dame Sans Merci

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has 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 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 set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, 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 a 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 wept, and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd -- Ah! woe betide!
The strangest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's 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 wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

music: Loreena McKennitt
lyrics: John Keats
From: Lost Souls (2018).

Source of the lyrics
The Quinlan Road website
with some corrections by me on based what Loreena sings, but keeping the original poem in mind:
- 6th stanza, line 4: "... made a sweet ..." added
- 8th stanza, line 2: "... sigh'd full sore" (instead of fill)
- 9th stanza, line 3: "... the strangest dream ...", which Loreena clearly sings,
      instead of latest as the original poem has

Background info and original poem of John Keats on this Wikipedia page

Song Notes by Loreena

Struck by the imagery of this poem, the longing and the mystery, I sought to put it to music in 2006 while working on An Ancient Muse.
Copied from the Quinlan Road website

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created: 9 June 2018
last modified: 30 March 2019