“O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.”

“La Belle Dame sans Merci” – John Keats


The phrase “alone and palely loitering“, always comes into my mind when I am photographing people who are ……… well……. alone and palely loitering.

Please click on any image for full-size or slideshow:


The poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci” by John Keats has  been a favourite of mine since high school.

I like that it is easy to understand, yet at the same time is enigmatic.  It tells a good story; it has a knight-at -arms, a lady without pity and even elves get a mention!

Here’s the full text. Enjoy………

La Belle Dame sans Merci

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered 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 fairy’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 lullèd 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 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 withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

by John Keats (1795 – 1821)


Thank you for visiting PHOTOPHILE.

For more monochrome, visit Cee’s Black &White Photo Challenge: Abandoned or Alone.


joshi daniel · 21 April 2018 at 14:49

Nice mood 🙂

paulfraser11 · 29 December 2017 at 19:06

A lovely collection Helen and your right about that poem :-))

    HMB · 29 December 2017 at 19:18

    I do love poems that I can easily understand, rather than some we did at school where every second word had to be explained as to the figurative meaning

Cee Neuner · 19 December 2017 at 19:18

Excellent post for this week. Thanks for playing. 😀

    HMB · 19 December 2017 at 19:20

    Thank you for all your challenges. I so enjoy them. They make me think out of the box. Hope you and a Chris have a happy Christmas.

I'm always pleased to read comments.....

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