Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Lady of Shalott

John William Waterhouse "The Lady of Shalott"

The Lady of Shalott

                                  Lord Alfred Tennyson1809 - 1892
                                 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 run 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
                                 Thro' 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 imbowers
                                  The Lady of Shalott.

                        By the margin, willow veil'd
                        Slide the heavy barges trail'd
                        By slow horses; and unhail'd
                        The shallop flitteth silken- sail'd
                        Skimming down to Camelot:
                        But who hath seen her wave her hand?
                        Or at the casement seen her stand?
                        Or is she known in all the land,
                        The Lady of Shalott?

                                 Only reapers, reaping early,
                                 In among the bearded barley
                                 Hear a song that echoes cheerly
                                 From the river winding clearly;
                                 Down to tower'd Camelot;
                                 And by the moon the reaper weary,
                                 Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
                                 Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
                                 The Lady of Shalott."

                          There she weaves by night and day
                          A magic web with colours gay.
                          She has heard a whisper say,
                          A curse is on her if she stay
                          To look down to Camelot.
                          She knows not what the curse may be,
                          And so she weaveth steadily,
                          And little other care hath she,
                          The Lady of Shalott.

                                 And moving through a mirror clear
                                 That hangs before her all the year,
                                 Shadows of the world appear.
                                 There she sees the highway near
                                 Winding down to Camelot;
                                 There the river eddy whirls,
                                 And there 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 through 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 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.

                           A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
                           He rode between the barley sheaves,
                           The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
                           And flamed 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 to 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 to Camelot.
                          As often thro' the purple night,
                          Below the starry clusters bright,
                          Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
                          Moves over still 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 to Camelot.
                                From the bank and from the river
                                He flashed into the crystal mirror,
                                "Tirra lirra," by the river
                                Sang Sir Lancelot.

                          She left the web, she left the loom,
                          She made three paces thro' the room,
                          She saw the water lily 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.

                                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;
                                Down she came and found a boat
                                Beneath a willow left afloat,
                                And around about the prow she wrote
                                The Lady of Shalott.

                          And down the river's dim expanse
                          Like some bold seer in a trance,
                          Seeing all his own mischance -
                          With a glassy countenance
                          Did she look to Camelot.
                          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 left and right-
                                The leaves upon her falling light-
                                Thro' the noises of the night
                                She floated down to Camelot:
                                And as the boat-head wound along
                                The willowy hills and fields among,
                                They heard her singing her last song,
                                The Lady of Shalott.

                         Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
                         Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
                         Till her blood was frozen slowly,
                         And her eyes were darkened wholly,
                         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 gleaming shape she floated by,
                                Dead-pale between the houses high,
                                Silent into Camelot.
                                Out upon the wharfs they came,
                                Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
                                And round the prow they read her name,
                                The Lady of Shalott.

                         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."


  1. Thanks for this, Cathy. What a sublime post. Literature, art and music all in one. I have a friend who did his PhD dissertation on Tennyson years ago. Now I'm going to pick his brain about "The Lady of Shalott." And the music - beautiful. My dad was a huge fan of Celtic & Irish music. I'd never heard of Loreena McKennitt before but will be looking for her now. And that painting! At first glance I thought it was a photograph. Thoroughly enjoyed reading, listening and looking to all of it. Thanks again & have a great week!

    1. Janet, I'm so glad to get your comment! I love it when I find someone who appreciates the same things I do. This is Loreena's Irish Celtic album: I discovered her 20 years ago and even got to attend a concert in Washington, DC--5th row. She's a fantastic performer. I was thrilled to discover the painting yesterday and knew I had to post the 3 different forms of creative expression--all I need now is to find an interpretative dance piece to round it out!

  2. Chills! Beautiful! Such perfect music to accompany one of my most favourite poems, and works of art too, which always makes me think of Anne of Green Gables!

  3. So beautiful, Cathy!! Thank you for posting this---I have not read it for years. The music is breath taking! ♥

    1. I'm so glad to be able to introduce Loreena McKennitt to everyone! You can find most of her music on YouTube.


Thank you for your comments! Please note: To prevent spam comments are published after moderation.