I'm rereading the Chronicles of Amber, and this line in the fifth book, The Courts of Chaos, has me entirely stumped. It comes just at the end of Corwin's encounter with "Lady."
I'll include a few extra lines to put it in context; the part I'm baffled by is in bold.
"Come to my pavilion now," she said, taking my hand, "where we will wile pleasurably the hours that remain."
"Thanks," I said. "Another time and that wiling would have been a fine dessert to a grand meal. Unfortunately, I must be on my way. Duty nags, time rushes. I've a mission."
"All right," she said. "It is not that important. And I know all about your mission. It is not all that important either, now."
"Oh? I must confess that I fully expected you to invite me to a private party which would result in me alone and palely loitering on the cold side of some hill sometime hence if I were to accept."
"And I must confess that it was my intention to so use you, Corwin. No longer, though."
I finished my wine. She moved to pour me more and I stayed her hand.
She looked up at me. I smiled.
"You almost persuaded me," I said.
Then I closed her eyes with kisses four, so as not to break the charm, and I went and mounted Star. The sedge was not withered, but he was right about the no birds. Hell of a way to run a railroad, though.
I am used to Zelazny's sometimes oblique references, and to the flowery comparisons that aren't references to anything in particular, but this one entirely escapes me.
Can anyone explain it? Is it perchance a reference to Beowulf?
(By the way, "sedge" is a grass-like plant.)