La Belle Dame Sans Merci
by John Keats
Stanzas 11 & 12 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Stanza 11, Lines 41-44
"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.
- The knight continues to describe the pale warriors from his dream – in the "gloam," or dusk, all he can make out are their "lips."
- Their mouths are "starv'd" and hungry-looking, and their mouths are all open as they cry out their warning to the knight.
- The word "gloam" just means dusk or twilight, but it's no accident that Keats uses it – after all, "gloam" sounds a lot like "gloom."
- The knight wakes up from the dream alone and cold on the side of a hill.
Stanza 12, Lines 45-48
"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing."
- The knight has finished his story. He tells the original, unnamed speaker, that this is why he's hanging out ("sojourn[ing]" and "loitering") by himself, even though it's so dismal outside.
- The knight repeats the unnamed speaker's words from the first stanza, so that the poem ends with almost exactly the same stanza with which it began.