by John Keats (1795 - 1821), as Caviare
Translation by Mihály Babits (1883 - 1941)

O what can ail thee, knight‑at‑arms
Language: English 
Available translation(s): GER ITA
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
   [Alone]1 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]2 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]3, 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]4 she lull'd me asleep,
   [And there]4 I dream'd -- [Ah!]5 woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
   On the cold [hill's side]6.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
   Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
[They]7 cried -- "La Belle Dame sans Merci
   Hath thee in thrall!"

[I saw their starved lips in the gloom,
   With horrid warning gaping wide,]8
And I awoke and found me here,
   On the cold [hill's side]6.

And this is why I sojourn here,
   Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
   And no birds sing.

W. Mayer sets stanzas 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 9-12 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information

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View original text (without footnotes)

Note: in the published form of this poem, each stanza has a Roman numeral. We have removed them.

First published in Indicator, May 1820

1 Stanford: "So lone"
2 Hindemith: "cheek"
3 Hindemith: "sideways would she lean"
4 W. Mayer: "There"
5 omitted by W. Mayer
6 W. Mayer: "hillside"
7 Hindemith, W. Mayer: "Who"
8 omitted by W. Mayer; Hindemith:
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
   With horrid warning gapèd wide,


Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Jean Neymarck (1889 - 1913) ; composed by Jean Neymarck.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Vrchlický) , "La belle dame sans merci"
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "La belle dame sans merci", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Mihály Babits) , "La belle dame sans merci"
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "La belle dame sans merci", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Ted Perry , Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 48
Word count: 284

La belle dame sans merci
Language: Hungarian (Magyar)  after the English 
Mi lelhetett, szegény fiú? 
Magadba bolygasz, sáppadón. – 
Madár se zeng már, kókkadoz
a nád a tón.

Mi lelhetett, szegény lovag? 
hogy arcod bánattal csatás? – 
A mókus csűre tellve, kész
az aratás.

A homlokodon liliom, 
lázharmat, nedves fájdalom: 
s arcod szegény rózsája is 
fonnyad nagyon.

Egy hölgyet láttam a mezőn, 
szépnél szebbet, tündérleányt: 
a haja hosszú, lába hab
és szeme láng.

Kötöztem néki koszorút, 
kösöntyüt, illatos övet:
s lám, édesen nyögell felém 
és rám nevet.

Lépő lovamra ültetém, 
szemem egész nap rajta volt: 
ő tündérnótát énekelt
s felém hajolt.

Majd gyüjtött manna-harmatot, 
vadmézet, s ízes gyökeret
s szólt idegen nyelven – talán 
azt hogy szeret.

És tündérbarlangjába vitt 
és sírt nagyon, sóhajtozott:
s én négy csókkal vad, vad szemét 
lezártam ott.

S álomba dúdolt engemet
s akkor álmodtam – jaj! talán 
utolsó álmom – a hideg 
domb oldalán.

Sok királyt láttam, herceget, 
arcuk sápadt, szemük irígy,
s szóltak: „La Belle Dame sans Merci
bűvölt el így!”

És láttam éhes ajkukat 
szörnyű intéssel nyílni rám: 
és fölriadtam a hideg 
domb oldalán.

És jaj! ezért időzöm itt 
magamba bolygva, sáppadón: 
bár nincs madárdal, s kókkadoz 
a nád a tón.

Authorship

Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

    [ None yet in the database ]


Researcher for this text: Andrew Schneider [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2019-07-31
Line count: 48
Word count: 188