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La Belle Dame sans Merci


Earthlore Art - La Belle Dame sans Merci by Sir Frank Dicksee:  'She looked at me as she did love, and made sweet moan.'


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The detail above, from the painting La Belle Dame sans Merci by English artist, Sir Frank Dicksee, (1853-1928) was based upon the poem by John Keats. Born to a family of artists, Dicksee enjoyed a broad acceptance in his lifetime. His works included biblical and historical subjects as well as allegorical themes.

Several other artists were inspired by Keats, including John William Waterhouse and Frank C. Cowper.
Earthlore Art - William Waterhouse: La Belle Dame sans Merci, detail
Waterhouse Detail

World Folklore is rich with tales of romance between mortals and those of Otherworld realms. Passionate stories of lovers who seldom considered what tomorrow would bring.

Earthlore Art - Grimshaw: 'Fairy' detail

The resulting union always drawing one away from their familiar world. The terrible longing for home which followed, would often drive them from one another, sometimes forever.

Among these moving tales is the Irish story of John KeatsNiam and Oisin

Other Poets :

W. B. Yeats
Edna Millay
Kahlil Gibran
Cristina Rossetti
Oscar Wilde

Lore of Poetry will be expanding regularly.  If you would like to receive notice of new features, feel welcome to make your request!

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La Belle Dame sans Merci

John Keats
(1795--1821)

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
John KeatsAlone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
John KeatsAnd no birds sing.

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
John KeatsSo haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
John KeatsAnd the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
John KeatsWith anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheek a fading rose
John KeatsFast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,
Lore of PoetryFull beautiful--a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
Lore of PoetryAnd her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
Lore of PoetryAnd bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
Lore of PoetryAnd made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
Lore of PoetryAnd nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
Romantic PoetryA faery's song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
Romantic PoetryAnd honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said--
Romantic Poetry"I love thee true."

She took me to her elfin grot,
Romantic PoetryAnd there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild eyes
Romantic PoetryWith kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep
English PoetryAnd there I dreamed--ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dreamed
English PoetryOn the cold hill's side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
English PoetryPale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried--"La Belle Dame sans Merci
English PoetryHath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
English PoetryWith horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
Fairy PoetryOn the cold hill's side.

And this is why I sojourn here
Fairy PoetryAlone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
Fairy PoetryAnd no birds sing.




Fairy PoetryJohn Keats (1795-1821) was an English poet of the Romantic period. Within a short life, Keats produced an impressive collection of profound works. Amongst his finest are some 65 sonnets, such as Ode on a Grecian urn.

Fairy PoetryLa Belle Dame sans Merci was written in 1819, a year in which Keats created a wealth of poetic imagery. At the age of twenty five, John Keats succumbed to the ravages of Tuberculosis and passed away. A life like the Romantic age itself, brief, shining and possessed by visions transcendent to the passage of time.



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