It is Poetry day in the UK, today, and even if I don’t live there I thought I’d join in. This is a blog on stories, though, so I needed narrative poetry. A ballad is perfect for the purpose: it tells a story, and it’s not too long.

I considered going back to Dylan with The man in the long black coat, but as it is a British celebration, I decided in favour of  John Keats. This is my favourite ballad ever.

Risultati immagini per la belle dame sans merci paintings

John William Waterhouse, 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 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 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 sigh’d full sore;
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dream’d – ah! woe betide!
The latest 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 gapèd 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.”

Risultati immagini per la belle dame sans merci paintings

Frank Cadogan Cowper, La Belle dame sans Merci.

 

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