Bright Star (2009) - La Belle Dame sans Merci - Ben Whishaw recites Keats





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Published on Oct 13, 2012

John Keats' lyrical poem La Belle Dame sans Merci (The Beautiful Lady without Mercy) is recited with wonderful rhythm and feeling by Ben Whishaw, who stars alongside Abbie Cornish in the 2009 movie Bright Star (detailing the gorgeous love story of John Keats for Fanny Brawne) . Scenes from which have been used to help narrate and luxuriate in the poem.

Anyone who, like me, has a tendency to weep at romance should watch this drama! Alongside the love story are the stunningly beautiful locations - both naturally (the bluebell wood scene, the reeds on Hampstead Heath Pond) and the interiors (Keat's room where he writes his poetry - womb-like warm tones, the early formal dance scene in the ballroom) create a wonderful atmosphere. The music chosen is unusual and stirring and the depth of the relationships (both hidden and open) makes one think. I challenge anyone (with a heart) not to feel wonderfully moved when luxuriating in this story.

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My aim - to bring a touch of old world grace and discreet glamour to the everyday.
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A full copy of the poem "La Belle Dame sans Merci" is below:

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 fill sore,

And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled 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 gaped 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.

"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."
I do not own the rights to this movie excerpt, they belong to Twentieth Century Fox, I am using the clip for critique and comment in a non-profit manner.


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