Friday, November 5, 2010

Lady of Shalott

  John Waterhouse Painting

   Alfred Tennyson 1809-1892 made significant changes to this poem in 1842 and it is the revised edition that is used in most publications of this classic poem.
The Story
    The Lady of Shalott lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. She looks outside her castle window in a mirror, weaves what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden to look at the outside world directly. The farmers who live near her island hear her singing and know who she is, but never see her. 

 The Lady, her surroundings, her tower and the outside world. The cause of the curse and its meaning are left unknown. She speaks through her own voice twice in the poem.Once when she makes the conscious decision to look out of her window, and again when she realizes what she has done. Tennyson  focuses the reader's attention on the physical situation of the Lady, and "the contrast between her interior world and the exterior world, between status quo and movement, between the active and meditative state and the differences between the two worlds"

 Lady of Shalott 
Verses and Photos taken around Lakes

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
;The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
    Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers
    The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth, silken-sail'd
    Skimming down to Camelot
Yet who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she know in all the land,
    The Lady of Shalott?
 Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the beared barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
    Down to towered Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
    Lady of Shalott."

And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to the left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
    And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
    The Lady of Shalott.

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