La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Jon Corelis)

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  • (Posted 2011-09-07)  CPDL #24378:       
Editor: Jon Corelis (submitted 2011-09-07).   Score information: Letter, 9 pages, 110 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Composer: Jon Corelis
Lyricist: John Keats

Number of voices: 2vv   Voicing: SA
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: Harp

First published: 2011
Description: My musical setting for Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci. This version has a harp accompaniment, though the first few stanzas are a cappella. The accompaniment is by way of example; other instruments could be used, or the song could be sung a cappella. There is an a cappella version, with some slight differences in the melody, available (see External Web Links below.) Flute used in this sound file to simulate voice; written for female voice, though I suppose it could also be sung by male tenor. I may have a slightly revised version of the accompanied version soon. Lyrics below.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

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 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 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
 Thee hath 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.