Sunday, July 29, 2007


J. W. Waterhouse

Here's another lady that intrigues me - and a giveaway after the poem.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson
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;
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 gray walls, and four gray 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 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 thro' 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 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, 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 flash'd 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 round 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 darken'd 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 cross'd 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."
Loreena McKennit set this sad, haunting Tennyson poem to music and put it on her CD "The Visit". She was also videotaped playing the harp and singing this ballad at the Canadian Juno awards. Since I have an extra copy, I am holding a giveaway for Loreena's 30-minute DVD called "No Journey's End", which features the full-length live performance, Loreena speaking about her music, and segments of videos from her other songs. To enter the giveaway, just post a comment here on why you like Loreena McKennitt, or if you've never heard of her but would like to. I'll draw a name in a week or so.


Patty said...

I love the lady of shalott and have a huge picture of her in the boat hanging over my couch. I havent heard fo the tape you mentioned but would be interested in seeing it so please put my name in for the drawing.

Miss Robyn said...

Joe bought me my very first Loreena Mckennit CD on the weekend. absolutely divine!
I love the Lady of, love love.. xoox

Anonymous said...

It is a great poem. I love Loreena McKennitt, so please add me to the draw.

Marie x

Anonymous said...

Oh, I would love, love, love to be the lucky winner.

Carole Burant said...

I still remember the first time I heard about Loreena McKennitt back in the mid 80's...if I recall, her first album was called Elemental. I love her Celtic style and we Canadians are very proud of her:-) I haven't heard her musical version of The Lady of Shallot but I'd love to!!! xox

nonizamboni said...

This is a lovely post, Julie, and I'm a huge Tennyson fan. Thanks for sharing.
p.s. How'd you like Miss Potter?

Anonymous said...

Wow love that poem. I couldn't begin to tell you why I love her music. She just has such a great voice and it is like it calls to me. Please add me in the draw.

Kim Campbell said...

OK, I have never heard of Loreena but I LOVE the picture of Lady of Shalott.

Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

Loreena is like someone from another land, another time. Her music can be haunting and then like a lullaby beautiful. for as much as I love her music I do not own one of her CD's - soon to be remedied.
The Lady of Shallot is beautiful and that is one of my very favorite illustrations by the way!

Annie Jeffries said...

The Lady of Shallot always reminds me of two other sad and tragic ladies - Ophelia and Desdamona. I've never heard of Loreena McKennit but judging from the comments, it would seen that she has many fans around the world.

Kate Robertson said...

I am a long time fan of Loreena's I have The Mask and the Mirror, The Visit, Parallel Dreams and the Book of Secrets. I have never seen her perform, even on TV but would love to. This DVD sounds wonderful please put me in your drawing.


Aimz said...

I've just started getting into music by Loreena McKennitt and this is one of my favourites :-)

Miss Robyn said...

my new CD is called "Book of secrets" - oh I love it.. I played it all the way to visit my mum and all the way back. what is it about the music that is so hauntingly familiar?

couragetocreatewriteandlove said...

Lorena rocks! Julie please do not include me! I just couldn't help but saying that I love her! and her voice is divine! I think Annieelf needs to learn about her, LOL

Michelle Frae Cummings said...

I have always loved her! Her music is so beautiful. Her album, "the book of secrets" has been playing in my son's (who just turned 3 yesterday) cd player in his room for nap/night time since the day he was born! I also love the poem and her song of the highway man.

HilLesha O'Nan said...

Thank you for the contest!

Naturegirl said...

Loreena has the voice of an angel to me..I can go into a trace like state when I listen to her somewhat haunting goes right to my soul...of course I have to turn the volume.I think I'll pull ~The Visit~
CD out and listen..perfect for the mood I have been in since Freddi passed away. hugs NG