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Belle Dame of 2006

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Oh knight-at-arms, what saw you there,
beside the lake where no bird sings?
A wistful misty wanderer,
in fairy rings?

She seemed so low and woebegone
beside the shore you found afar,
and love was mixed with pity in
her fading star.

In dreams, we saw a Fairy sleep -
and yet, La Belle Dame sans Merci
is just another dreamer dressed
for eyes to see.

In summer questing far, I found
an artist selling prints he made;
for there ’twas said the sleeping sprite
in paint was laid -

but sadly he had sold her like,
and thinking not to waste my time,
I bought instead that same Belle Dame
Keats wrote in rhyme.

But then the Fairy left me lone,
still shiv'ring coldly by your side;
the door beneath the hill had closed,
and her light had died.

My knightly friend, we saw the same;
a woman daubed in dreams we made,
and so, La Belle Dame sans Merci
went dressed in shade.

Thus you and I are lying here,
as winter comes to chill the heart;
we look each other in the eye,
as dreams depart;

for both of us saw what we sought,
and Fairies will be what they will,
until the door is shut once more,
beneath their hill.

With thanks to the genius of John Keats (1795-1821), whose ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ first inspired me to read and write poetry.

This poem is an allegory of my own life, whose events tragically mimicked Keats' poem in 2006. I went looking for a picture of a sleeping fairy to represent ‘Aurorielle’, but since the artist had sold out that print, I bought his rendition of ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ instead.

It turned out to be a portent, as the beloved Fairy was sadly not what she had at first appeared; I had bought the right picture, after all.

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