scribbler extraordinaire

Sfep: Day 1

It’s been two years since I graduated from Nottingham University’s Creative and Professional Writing course. Since then, I’ve had two jobs. The first was a job with a design agency working as a QA Assistant. I really enjoyed my time there, but as the job focused around editing price strips rather than actual copy, I left to go to an e-learning company, which is where I am now. Now I write content, I edit my writing (and the writing of my fellow Scriptwriters), I communicate with people, and I am constantly learning. And I can say I write for a living, even though its not creative writing (which I think is a good thing.)

In addition to this, I work next to the University of Nottingham’s main campus. I walk through there at least twice a day. And I miss academia. I really do.

So, what are you going to do?

I remember one on my university tutors David Kershaw (who is sadly no longer with us) talking about the Society for Proofreaders and Editors courses. And today, I this learning will begin.

I’m taking the ‘Copy-editing’ online course. This will allow me to work from home, and learn how to really improve my writing, and that of others. I have had some ideas in the past to a small publishing venture, and I haven’t forgotten this, but I would like to brush up my skills in a constructive way before I embark on this.

Er, Emily… I thought you wanted to be a writer. Why are you doing copy-editing?

I am on that road, but I think that creative passion should not be made to work. It should be the thing you do for enjoyment. If you sell your stories, that’s another thing entirely. But it seems that since the course, my writing has been burnt out. I still have a passion for publishing, and want to continue to work in similar roles, so I’ll be taking training which will complement my writing, and help me to improve.

Article: Life Lactoseless

I’m fortunate to have been published in print, and digitally during the past few years. As I don’t want to lose my work, I’m posting it here too. Below, you’ll find my article on lactose intolerance, published by left lion.

Life, Lactoseless

Fancy a cheeky takeaway after a night of partying? Nope. How about some cheese on toast? Nah. Being a student and suffering with lactose intolerance can be tough.

You’ve just moved to a strange city, eager to start your course and meet new people– then the discomfort starts. You make a terrible discovery–you’re lactose-intolerant.

All the ‘student foods’ are denied to you. No pizza or cheeky takeaway, not unless you want to spend the next day in bed, curled up in pain. While people tend to accept the inevitable Sunday in bed due to a hangover, doubling up on pain because you treated yourself to a portion of chips and cheese seems both unnecessary and unfair.

I arrived at Nottingham University feeling ready to challenge everything; ideas, people and myself. I joined several societies, and despite plenty of late nights, I went to all my lectures.

Late nights and early mornings meant tea, hot chocolate and frequent trips to get milk, but when I started to feel ill throughout the day, I couldn’t work out why.

My symptoms slowly increased. I would be in pain after meals, and I suffered embarrassing symptoms. I prayed my flat mates weren’t around during the bad times and had no idea why they were happening to me.

Finally, I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance. But what was the cause? Why was I suddenly affected? My doctor and I have no idea. The new stresses of university life could have done it. Anxiety can cause IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and lactose intolerance. I only know that when I took lactose out of my diet, these symptoms went away almost immediately.

Apparently, one in five people have lactose intolerance and don’t even know about it. In these cases symptoms are so mild that the sufferer hardly notices their discomfort (lucky them.) The NHS defines lactose intolerance as; “A common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.” This can cause nausea, stomach pain or discomfort, flatulence and diarrhoea. Some people are affected more than others and can eat foods with milk as long as it has been processed or cooked, others not so much.

As I said, I am a student and therefore I require some encouragement while I work. For me this means an incentive of a snack for finishing a page, and even as I write this piece, I have sweets at my side- promised to me once I reach a certain number of words. Now I’ve had to cut out the lactose though, I’ve switched my butter and other dairy products to soya based variants, or I avoid things altogether. Before the swap I had no idea why I felt queasy during the day. Biscuits and baked goods contain butter, ergo milk. So my regular elevenses of tea and biscuits have changed. Soy milk and ‘own brand’ biscuits seem to be the safest option for me now– and I’ve learnt from my mistakes to always check the label.

Semi-skimmed milk powder is my nemesis, lurking in the small print, trying to catch me out. Just because it’s powdered does not mean the lactose is gone. It’s in everything! Luckily, supermarkets have a quick and easy ‘allergy’ tag on most of their products. If ‘milk’ is listed there, then I know it’s not okay for me to eat. If the product isn’t something I’ve had before, I check the ingredients list- just to make sure, but to do that with every item you buy on a weekly shop and your eyes will soon get tired.

However, there has never been a better time to be lactose intolerant. There are all sorts of ‘free’ foods. Soy and lactose-free milk and cheeses are available in most supermarkets.and ‘free’ chocolate and ready-meals are here! Bring out your dead recipes and revive them, for the milky revolution is upon us!

Sometimes you can’t check the label, though. I forget to ask for soy milk a lot and have to ask for a swap (and because soy milk lasts longer than regular milk, it’s often less than fresh) I’ve become a much better chef, riddling out exactly what would go into a meal in a restaurant. Sure, I like vegetarian options, but they aren’t always as nice, and sometimes cheese is unavoidable. But there are alternatives to discomfort. If you do find yourself caught short, ask your doctor about Lactase – an enzyme pill which breaks down lactose. If you are in a restaurant and the only tasty option contains milk, throw one down and wait for your meal.

Allergies and intolerances are becoming ‘more common’ as people are more aware of their symptoms and the possible causes of them. Becoming more aware doesn’t mean suffering more though, with a little planning and armed with the right information, you can eat a healthy, well balanced diet, that doesn’t make you feel horrendous. The future of food for those with lactose intolerance is a lot brighter, and tastier, for everyone.

Interview: Rachael Caine

I’m fortunate to have been published in print, and digitally during the past few years. As I don’t want to lose my work, I’m posting it here too. Below, you’ll find my interview of Rachael Caine, a favorite author of young adults.

Rachael Caine

The bestselling author of the Morganville Vampire series for young adults was in town to promote her current book, Glass Houses.

What made you start writing?

I had an assignment from a teacher. She gave us a sentence to work into a story and I came up with something completely different. I came up with two wizards duelling in a dusty western town in the cowboy era. She encouraged me to start writing my own stories and keep them in a journal.

For many years I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I just wrote things. It wasn’t until I was 28 that a friend of mine urged me to find out about actually ‘becoming’ a writer. That’s when my path to publication really began.

How and when did you decide to start sending out your manuscripts?

I didn’t consciously decide, a friend of mine decided for me. He brought me a ticket to a writer’s conference. He didn’t tell me I was going. He just took me there and left me with the ticket, ‘Go find out about this, I’ve paid your way in.’ So I felt I had to make the most of it. I met my first editor there and thanks to the endorsement from my friend I felt brave enough to talk to the editor. He ended up buying my first book.

How did you feel when you learnt that you had become a New York Times best-seller?

It was odd. At that point I had been writing professionally for many years and published about twenty books. It was shocking to me that I was writing something that was popular enough to start getting that kind of success. I was still employed full-time, and that day I was at a conference for work. That was when I got the call. It was the end of the day and everyone had gone except my boss. I was so excited I blurted it out ‘My book just hit the New York Times!’ She played it cool and said ‘That’s great, but let’s talk about tomorrow…’ So I contained myself. Next morning, I was greeted with a champagne breakfast with all the conference attendees.

Why do you have so many pen names?

It wasn’t the plan, I started out with my maiden name Roxanne Longstreet but I wasn’t hitting the right market. People recognise your name, remember your past books and don’t take a chance on the next. Sometimes you want to start out as a new writer with a new book. I took my married name Roxanne Conrad. When the Weather Wardwn series came out my publisher asked me to create a new pen name, so I became Rachael Caine.

You become a new person. Partly it has to do with how sales are tracked – quickly and electronically. It can be very hard to overcome statistics if you haven’t had a great start. When you have a wonderful new book, it can be easier to start over, when no one has any expectations for your sales.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think any writing is important. Whether you are writing your thoughts or writing stories. You need to practice the process of turning thoughts into words, picking the right ones and learning your voice. I don’t keep a journal any more, but it helped start me out.

The landscape of publishing is very different now…

It’s both great – and scary. The pace of publishing allowed you to refine yourself. I was rejected frequently, but it always taught me something. Today, it’s easy to hit Kindle Direct five minutes after completing your first story, and put it up for sale. Not everyone is ready for the fire storm which can erupt. There will always be people who don’t like your work – and they’re quite direct about telling you this online. They have a right to, they paid money for your book. Make sure you’re ready. You can get to the market faster, but if you’re not ready it can damage your confidence.

Have you ever considered self-publishing?

At this point in my career I wouldn’t do it with my novels. I have a large audience for my traditionally published books. But for smaller, one-off projects or novellas, I’d probably do it.

You’re an ‘online author’. Do you enjoy this and has it helped your career?

I’m naturally a very social person. It’s great when you write several books a year, you can live behind your computer and never leave. With twitter or facebook you know that there are other people out there somewhere, commiserating with the fact that you haven’t left your pyjamas in two days.

It has allowed a lot of writers to connect. It’s become a smaller and more supportive world. It wasn’t that easy for us to find each other before. Now I meet people online years before I actually see them face-to-face. I have friends in countries all over the world. I met Trudi Canavan in Australia earlier this year, but I’d known her for quite a while before that.

My online audience is fantastic. They’ll tell you what they love – and what they don’t. It’s refreshing for readers to tell you what they mean. If you only hear criticism in a formal setting, you’ll only hear the good stuff. But if they can send you a tweet about why they think a character did something stupid, they will. I just saw a review of my work that pointed out that I use the word ‘suddenly’ way too much. I went and counted, and that person was right.

As a novelist of vampire books, are you ever compared to Anne Rice or Stephenie Meyer?

That would be really nice. I think we’re all thought of as a continuum. We will be asked ‘Are your books like X or Y?’ Usually the answer is yes and no, because we share a common root, but our twists on vampires is what makes it interesting. I don’t know if anyone compares us exactly, but I’m honoured if they do.

We heard you write to music?

I have playlists I create for each book. This became a habit when I became Rachael Caine. I started listening to a particular album at first. Then I realised I could use itunes to create my own from varied artists. Now I start writing with about ten songs. This is the core of the book – in music. I add songs in as I go and you can tell how difficult a book was by how many songs are in my playlist. 74 is a bad number. I share these with my readers, so they have a soundtrack for my book.

This week I learnt that one of the musicians’ daughter reads my books. He had no idea he was listed in the back until she told him. I met them at one of my signings and I got to meet him in the flesh.

Anything on the horizon?

I’m going to finish the Morganville series at 15 books. Daylighters will be out in November. My adult series will be finished by the end of this year, and I have a brand new YA novel to do next year called Prince of Shadows and isn’t connected to any of my other books. It’s a take on Romeo and Juliet, set in the period. There’s always stuff on the horizon, but I don’t know what it looks like yet.

Interview: David Almond

I’m fortunate to have been published in print, and digitally during the past few years. As I don’t want to lose my work, I’m posting it here too. I’m particularly proud to say that I have interviewed David Almond, author of Skellig (among other works.)

David Almond

Master story-teller, Nottingham Trent lecturer and novelist David Almond has broadened the landscape of dreams with his latest book Mouse Bird Snake Wolf. And, as Emily Cooper found out, he’s not afraid to scare the kids.

What’s your writing routine?

Sitting down at my desk, that’s the thing. Routine is really important, so a lot of the things that I do seem very free and easy but actually are done within a very tight routine and hard work. I think writing is about long-term concentration so even when I appear not to be writing, I probably am. I think that’s the same for all writers. There’s always a part of your mind which is working.

Is writing a graphic novel different to fiction and children’s literature?

Not really. I think one of the great things about writing for young people has been the variety of forms that you can work in. Kids don’t make distinctions between different forms as adults do, so kids will very naturally spring from words on a page, to words in drama, to dance, to song. I think that’s what storytelling is, it’s all kinds of forms. If I think what I’m writing has to be illustrated then there is something going on in my mind, leaving space for the artist to come in with their own vision. It’s certainly been the case when I’ve been working with Dave McKean or Polly Dunbar or Oliver Jeffers. When I wrote Mouse Bird Snake Wolf I wrote it originally as a short story. I didn’t think about it as a graphic novel but I thought it would be illustrated, I just thought of it as a story that had to have enough space to allow Dave to bring in his own talent.

Before you worked with Dave McKean did you see any of his work?

Oh yes, I’d seen his work with Neil Gaiman, Wolves in the Walls. It was those kind of books which drew me towards Dave. I read Wolves not long before I began to write The Savage and thought what he was doing was fantastic. I had a sense while I was writing that we had similar imaginations, that we were alike: similar sources, similar roots. When we managed to get the manuscript to him I think he felt that we were colleagues of the imagination.

You’ve collaborated with Dave McKean several times. How does this work?

Generally it has been that I have written the stories and hope that Dave would like it enough to illustrate them. The first one we did was The Savage, and when I was writing the book to be illustrated, half way through it I knew that the perfect illustrator would be Dave McKean. So for the second part I was writing with the great hope that Dave might somehow be drawn into it. But I didn’t sit down and talk to him. The first time I met Dave was after he had done the illustrations at the launch of The Savage. It was the same with Polly Dunbar, when I did the novels with her I wrote them and then the illustrations came back and were perfect.

Neither you, Dave McKean or Neil Gaiman seem worried to have a children’s story that’s a little scary…

If you need to go to scary places, you have to go there. It’s not that you do it deliberately, or say “I really want to terrify these kids”. Kids imaginations deal with scary enough things all the time; monsters under the bed, noises at the window. It’s very natural but some of the best children’s stories are going to be scary. Good books reach down into those things inside ourselves and civilize them.

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf – what’s it about?

It’s set in a world which is very like this world but hasn’t been finished yet. The gods have become lazy and they lie around on clouds, drinking tea and eating cakes, just admiring the lovely world beneath them. But there are still spaces in the world. The story starts when three children begin to wonder about this, “Why is the world not finished?” and they begin to create little animals for themselves. Because it’s a creation story based around children it was just fantastic to do, and I sent it to Dave to come back with a remarkable stream of images.


I did some illustration too!

Lots of writers get asked where they get their ideas from – but how do you know an idea is worth pursuing?

It’s when a story comes with a kind of ‘fizz’ around it and it feels like it has the strength to be extended. When it connects with something within you, matching what’s on the page to a feeling. For years and years I didn’t quite know what to work with, which one to take forwards and be turned into something decent. The more you do it, the more you get a sense of the things that matter to you. Then you turn it into something the outside world might like or be interested in. So it’s a mix between messing with the ideas and finding the right one. Then committing to it.

You have been described as a “Master Storyteller”. How do you feel about that?

When I saw that written for the first time I was astonished. It’s very nice if people say that sort of thing. I think when someone says something like that you have to say, “That’s very nice, thank you very much”. Then you just have to crack on. The next story is always the hardest to write, so you think, “Well, if I’m a master then I can do this.”

How do you balance tutoring and writing?

You just have to keep things under control and find a balance. I enjoy teaching, sharing the ‘writing act’ and the process of creativity. But the central focus has to be on my own work. So you can’t allow work to invade.

What’s it like working with new writers at NTU?

This is one way of doing my job as a writer and keeping the literary culture alive – by sharing something about my skills and doing how I write. There are many things about writing that you can’t teach but you can share lots of things and give each other imaginative opportunities to develop your own talent. I do the exercises I set my students, not as deliberately, but they are distillations of how I do my writing.

What’s next on the list?

I’m finishing a new novel at the moment called The Tightrope Walkers which will come out in 2014. My first ever stories are being re-published this year by my first publisher, Iron Press. Then there’s a short novel I want to write – which is the next main thing I want to do. I can sense what it will be like, condensed, rhythmical.

What can we expect from your talk at the Festival of Words?

I’m talking about Billy Dean, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf and The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas. They all deal with similar themes, some of them quite scary. They’re all really about growing up and creating our own lives, and that’s what stories are – things that grow up. So writing for children is the perfect way of writing. Kids are growing up, like stories themselves. So I’ll be talking about those three books, how I made them, the power of illustrations and language. I’ll also be trying to inspire the audience to think of themselves as writers…

Book Review: Queen of All Albion

Over the past two years, I’ve written several book reviews for leftlion (Nottingham’s free culture magazine). To ensure that I keep copies of what I’ve written for them, I’m posting them here too. So, without further ado:

Queen of All Albion

Linda Hardy


Trinity Revell is a remarkable girl, and very outspoken considering she lives in 1592. She accepts an arranged marriage with good cheer, until she finds out that her ‘husband’ is not her dashing cousin, Will, but his ageing stepfather. This is the start of a girl’s adventure story with runaway brides, sword fights and superstition. Our Notts-based author shows us a different side to the Midlands, one of a travelling band of jaggers and actors where Trinity must battle with possessive mothers, her own hormones and the Devil himself. The story has a slow start and a few archaic words put me off, but I kept reading and I’m glad I did. The pace picks up, galloping to the finish. Will Trinity regain her reputation? Will her cousin shake off the Devil’s Blessing? And what are those funny feelings Trinity has for one of the travellers? Enjoy.

Book Review: The Woman Under The Ground

Over the past two years, I’ve written several book reviews for leftlion (Nottingham’s free culture magazine). To ensure that I keep copies of what I’ve written for them, I’m posting them here too. So, without further ado:

The Woman Under The Ground

Megan Taylor

£7.99 (Weathervane Press)

We’ll start with Mrs Sawyer, a mother on a school run. What could be more ordinary? With Megan’s characters, each one has a particular brand of darkness within. In Mrs Sawyer’s case, it’s the voices. For Cara, she cannot resist the lure of the woods, and that place where all her secrets collide – where a woman made of earth and roots lies in the ground. Megan Taylor’s first short story collection is a beautiful but dark affair, exploring illness, guilt, trauma, absent mothers, ghosts as physical manifestations, imaginary siblings, broken relationships and insects preserved behind glass. But it’s offset by some beautiful Tim Burton-esque illustrations which accompany each story and distort the reader’s expectations. If you like short stories, you won’t want to rush with this book. Read it slowly. Treasure its characters – the wonderful, dangerous, honest creatures that they are.

Book Review: Tethers

Over the past two years, I’ve written several book reviews for leftlion (Nottingham’s free culture magazine). To ensure that I keep copies of what I’ve written for them, I’m posting them here too. So, without further ado:


Jack Croxhall

£1.85 (Kindle), SP

Tethers has all the ingredients for a great children’s book. A hunt for a magical artefact, swash-bucking lessons and a mysterious diary. It’s practically a pirate story with all their travels through waterways and Jack Croxall gives his readers a book following Karl and Esther as they are pursued by a vicious set of twins and their henchmen. I desperately wanted the author to write a bumpier road- to really make me sit up and listen but I felt I was following rather than being a part of the action. In books, children sneak off and save the day, but here they follow orders from the adults. While the danger steadily grew, I still felt like I was in the back seat. I’d happily recommend it for a rainy afternoon.

What is Copywriting?

There are many writing professions. You’ve heard of the Poet, Novelist and Journalist. But what about the ‘Copywriter’? I’ve written this explanation for friends and family, to explain this interest of mine.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting aims to sell. Discretely, or not. ‘Copy’ refers to the text. Which should always be original, and has nothing to do with being copied from elsewhere. In order to sell ideas, products and services, copywriters must use every ounce of flair and creative talent to turn a few facts into attractive copy that convinces you to part with your money.

It has nothing to do with copy-rite (c), which is the legal matter of placing claim to ideas and intellectual property. Unless a copywriter is selling products with the need for legal disclaimers, or has made outrageous claims, there is little need for a copywriter to cross paths with a lawyer.

An excellent book on copywriting by Mark Shaw. Who, incidentally, began a company called ‘Jupiter’ where I worked for a year. Mr Shaw was no longer there, as he is now pursuing a more active copywriting career.

Copywriting encompasses a wide range of projects. Anything from advertising slogans and product jingles, to product descriptions and the wording on a price tag in a shop. Leaflets, website ‘copy’, poster slogans, company branding, magazine articles… the list goes on. It can be very creative, and at the same time it’s non-fiction and there is a kind of ‘formula’ to this skill.

Who employs Copywriters?

Copywriters have two customers. First, the people who the products will be sold to. You or I. Secondly, their employers. The people who want the ‘copy’. These will be companies who want their products/services to look good, or design agencies. With so many people having a say in a copywriter’s ideas, copywriters sometimes have to sacrifice a strong idea because the ‘Big Boss’ doesn’t like it, even though everyone else may love it.

What makes good Copywriting?

Copywriting often involves storytelling to show the customer why a product or service will change their lives for the better. Copywriters shouldn’t try to be comedians, because the witty idea will stay in a customer’s mind, not the product.

As for knowing when your writing is good, that’s a skill all writers pick up. Knowing which ideas to chase, and which to send to recycling.

The Lady of Rivers Review

It’s like the Game of Thrones series, with royalty, pageantry and everybody dies – or, to be more precise, we know everyone will die, because this is historical fiction.


The Lady of Rivers by Philippa Gregory is the first episode in a series of novels about the women in the Royal court during the Cousins War (now known as the War of the Roses.) In this book we cover the early adulthood of Jacquetta Woodville, the mother of Elizabeth Rivers who will later marry Henry of Lancaster and become Queen of England. Their marriage was a secret, and split the fragile peace that Henry and Richard Neville (Earl of Warwick and the Kingmaker) had fought to create.

It seems I have learnt quite a lot from reading Philippa’s books. No? I’m not sure if it’s Gregory’s writing which has brought the medieval times alive for me, or the TV series The White Queen based on her books. I’ve watched it numerous times. Either way, having watched the series first, it does help me put faces to names, and there are so very many names to remember.


While watching the series, I really enjoyed the character of Jacquetta. Gregory has written her as an infinately wise person, loving and fiercely loyal to family and friends, even when the two divide her. I never thought I’d say this, but Jacquetta is almost to good. She marries for love, despite her choice being many classes lower than herself. It’s a fairytale, but that part of her life is also true. I doubt that she never had an angry moment, or spoke poorly at an inopportune moment, or actually did go looking for her husband in the battle-ravaged streets of London.

I feel she’s been written too kindly. She had more children than she had fingers on her hands. How was she healthy? Or happy – when she was constantly pulled away from her life to be at the side of her Queen? Gregory gave me details of her clothing, an idea of her life, but the personality she gave Jacquetta made the character feel colourless. It is clear from what she does that she was fierce and passionate – but this was left out of her dialogue and her actions, the ones Philippa ‘wrote in’ at the moments when there are few facts, only results and actions to be decided.

Margaret of Anjou – now there’s a character! She’s much more three dimensional. She’s ambitious, cruel and grief stricken for the way her life is going. Philippa wrote Margaret  with real fire. It’s a shame she’s not the main character in this book, but I believe there’s a book focusing on her later in the series.

The Writing

I feel her books are good for evoking these women’s stories, but I cannot fall in love with these books entirely. Gregory’s writing style is very simple. For me, she is a historian first, and a writer second.

I’d recommend this series to viewers of The White Queen who want to delve deeper into the story, without other historians’ conflicting opinions about the times. For more academic reading, I’d have to suggest going elsewhere – these are books of fiction after all.

It’s been a while

Hello all,

How are you? Long time no see – my fault I’m afraid. To my dismay I haven’t felt much of a writing bug for a while, but have been feeling an itch growing lately. I do hope this is a positive sign. It was National Poetry day last week, and I wanted to share one of my favourite poems ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ by Keates. It might seem like an odd choice for a 22-year old, but there’s something about its sadness, the fantasy and the structure I find pleasing. I discovered it during my university course, and it reminds me of the good times spent on the Jubilee Campus.

I have more news. No longer will I be living and working out in the sticks of Nottingham. As of yesterday, I no longer work at True Story Design Ltd as a ‘Quality Assurance Assistant’, but will be beginning shortly at BYG Systems as a Scriptwriter, writing copy for their educational software. There’s elements of research and copywriting which appeal to me, and I have always wanted to be a writer. The wonderful staff at True Story have been very welcoming, and the year I spent with them has been a good one. Now it’s time to start a new chapter in my life, returning to the streets of Beeston, which I considered my home for two years during my degree.

I have a lot of writerly plans, such as a possible column about my copywriting experiences with NWS, and a publishing idea I’d like to see take flight. Right now a lot of my thoughts are spent on moving and getting better (as I seem to have poisoned myself last week, and am still recovering.) I would also like to partake in NaNoWriMo, as I haven’t ‘won’ since my first attempt at secondary school. Shocking.

Without further ado, La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Oh 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 lulled 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
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 withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

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