Keats' poem describes the encounter between an unnamed knight and a mysterious woman who is said to be "a faery's child". It opens with a description of the knight in a barren landscape, "haggard" and "woe-begone". He tells the reader how he met a beautiful lady whose "eyes were wild"; he set her on his horse and she took him to her "elfin grot", where she "wept, and sigh'd full sore". Falling asleep, the knight had a vision of "pale kings and princes", who cried, "La Belle Dame sans Merci hath thee in thrall!" He awoke to find himself on the same "cold hill's side" after which he continues to wait and "palely loitering".