The Lady of Shalott (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

The Lady of Shalott (1832)

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
The yellow-leaved waterlily
The green-sheathed daffodilly
Tremble in the water chilly
Round about Shalott.


Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
The sunbeam showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.


Underneath the bearded barley,
The reaper, reaping late and early,
Hears her ever chanting cheerly,
Like an angel, singing clearly,
O’er the stream of Camelot.
Piling the sheaves in furrows airy,
Beneath the moon, the reaper weary
Listening whispers, ‘ ‘Tis the fairy,
Lady of Shalott.’


The little isle is all inrail’d
With a rose-fence, and overtrail’d
With roses: by the marge unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken sail’d,
Skimming down to Camelot.
A pearl garland winds her head:
She leaneth on a velvet bed,
Full royally apparelled,
The Lady of Shalott.


Part II
No time hath she to sport and play:
A charmed web she weaves alway.
A curse is on her, if she stay
Her weaving, either night or day,
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be;
Therefore she weaveth steadily,
Therefore no other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.


She lives with little joy or fear.
Over the water, running near,
The sheepbell tinkles in her ear.
Before her hangs a mirror clear,
Reflecting tower’d Camelot.
And as the mazy web she whirls,
She sees the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.


Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower’d Camelot:
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.


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


Part III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flam’d upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.


The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down from Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.


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 from Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over green Shalott.


His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
Sang Sir Lancelot.


She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro’ the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
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.


Part IV
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Outside the isle a shallow boat
Beneath a willow lay afloat,
Below the carven stern she wrote,
The Lady of Shalott.


A cloudwhite crown of pearl she dight,
All raimented in snowy white
That loosely flew (her zone in sight
Clasp’d with one blinding diamond bright)
Her wide eyes fix’d on Camelot,
Though the squally east-wind keenly
Blew, with folded arms serenely
By the water stood the queenly
Lady of Shalott.


With a steady stony glance—
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Beholding all his own mischance,
Mute, with a glassy countenance—
She look’d down to Camelot.
It was the closing of the day:
She loos’d the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.


As when to sailors while they roam,
By creeks and outfalls far from home,
Rising and dropping with the foam,
From dying swans wild warblings come,
Blown shoreward; so to Camelot
Still as the boathead wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her chanting her deathsong,
The Lady of Shalott.


A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her eyes were darken’d wholly,
And her smooth face sharpen’d slowly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot:
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.


Under tower and balcony,
By garden wall and gallery,
A pale, pale corpse she floated by,
Deadcold, between the houses high,
Dead into tower’d Camelot.
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
To the planked wharfage came:
Below the stern they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.


They cross’d themselves, their stars they blest,
Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
There lay a parchment on her breast,
That puzzled more than all the rest,
The wellfed wits at Camelot.
‘The web was woven curiously,
The charm is broken utterly,
Draw near and fear not,—this is I,
The Lady of Shalott.’

Once upon a time in the kingdom Arendelle, far, far away from here, there was a beautiful princess, called Aurora. She lived in a gigantic castle with her father, mother and her two sisters. When the sun shone, she liked to go flower picking with her sisters.

One day, in the beginning of spring, the sun shined and a warm wind was blowing though the trees, on which the new leafs were growing. Aurora wanted to go outside the castle and go flower picking, but her older sisters didn’t want to go, because they were to busy with their boyfriends. Aurora was sad, so she went alone to the woods. Once in the woods, she sat down in the bright green grass and started crying. An old lady passed by and came towards her and asked what was wrong. Aurora answered: “My sisters are more interested in their boyfriends than in me.” And she started crying harder. They started talking for a few hours and eventually the old lady said: “My child, come to my home with me. I will never let you down and I will never find something else more important than you.” Aurora accepted the old lady’s offer and went along with the old lady.

They walked for hours and hours. Finally, they reached the home of the old lady, a high tower, in the kingdom “Camelot”. They went inside the tower, to the highest chamber at the end of the stair. Aurora walked the chamber in, but then, the old lady suddenly shuts the door behind her and Aurora was locked up. “Why are you doing this?” Aurora screamed loudly. “I am a pour woman, cursed by a witch. I wanted magical powers, and I got them, but as a side effect, I became ugly and I can not change that. So I take revenge on all the beautiful girls in the kingdom and lock them up,” the old lady answered. She laughed in an evil way and eventually the old lady went away and Aurora was left alone in the tower with a horrible curse cast upon her: she would die if she ever looked out of the window, so she couldn’t escape either. The only way she could look outside, was indirectly through a mirror.

Aurora was so sad, she kept crying day after day, but after a few weeks, she gave up hoping that her family would come and rescue her and she started weaving to let time pass faster. At first, she weaved images of the beautiful memories she had, but time was passing and she starts to forget all the memories she had. When she couldn’t come up with memories to weave, she wove whatever she saw in the mirror: a little girl in a red hood, 7 dwarfs walking with axes, an ogre, a little deer without a mother and a boar and a meerkat walking together down the road. She wove day in, day out. After a few years, the weaving starts to bore her. She just wants to look outside the window for once and not through a mirror.

On a beautiful bright day in fall, Aurora looked in the mirror and she saw a knight rode by. His glossy black hear wove through the air, his silver armor shined in the sun and on his face was the most beautiful smile. She got so curious and looked out the window to see the knight better, but the moment she looked outside, the curse got activated. Aurora was slowly dying, but determined that she wouldn’t die alone in that horrible tower. She cracked the door open and escaped. She ran out the tower towards the river, where there was a boat, on which was written: The lady of Shalott. “Hmm, this boat is probably the boat of this lady, but I think she would not mind if I would borrow it,” Aurora thought. So with her last bit of energy, she stepped in the boat and sailed down the river along with the stream.

The water was clear and cool and the leafs of the trees landed upon her. While she was sailing along the river, she ended up in the harbor of the castle of Camelot. She was only seconds away from death and lots of people gathered around her, including the handsome knight she saw earlier. He said: “What a beautiful lady are you.” At that moment, Aurora exhaled her last breath and died. She was buried with the name The lady of Shalott, because nobody knew her real name, but at least she died happily ever after…

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