Saturday, November 27, 2010

So what this book presupposes is- maybe Lady of Shalot doesn't die and she and Sir Lancelot live happily ever after.


The first four stanzas describe a pastoral setting. The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but little is known about her by the local farmers.

And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy

Lady of Shalott."

Stanzas five to eight describe the lady's life. She has been cursed, and so she must constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island.

She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

Stanzas nine to twelve describe "bold Sir Lancelot" as he rides past, and is seen by the lady.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,

As he rode down to Camelot.

The remaining seven stanzas describe the effect on the lady of seeing Lancelot; she stops weaving and looks out her window toward Camelot, bringing about the curse.

Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried

The Lady of Shalott.

Illustration by W. E. F. Britten for a 1901 edition of Tennyson's poems.

She leaves her tower, finds a boat upon which she writes her name, and floats down the river to Camelot. She dies before arriving at the palace, and among the knights and ladies who see her is Lancelot and he thinks she is lovely.

"Who is this? And what is here?"
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,

All the Knights at Camelot;

But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shalott."

No comments: