"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"The Lady of Shalott" is a narrative poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, first published in 1832. 

It tells the story of a mysterious woman who is trapped in a tower on the island of Shalott and can only view the outside world through a mirror. This summary will provide an overview of the poem, highlighting its major themes and key events.

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-The poem begins by describing the island of Shalott, which is located near Camelot. The Lady of Shalott lives in a tower on the island, and she spends her days weaving a magical web. She is under a curse that forbids her from directly looking out at the world; instead, she can only see the reflections of the outside world in a mirror.

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One day, the Lady sees Sir Lancelot, a noble knight, reflected in her mirror, and she is immediately captivated by his presence. Overwhelmed by her desire to see him directly, she decides to defy the curse and turns away from her mirror. As she does so, the mirror cracks, signifying the breaking of the enchantment that had kept her isolated.

Realizing the consequences of her actions, the Lady of Shalott leaves her tower and finds a boat by the river. She writes her name on the boat and sets off downstream, towards Camelot. The people of Camelot notice her floating towards them and marvel at her beauty and mysterious appearance.

One day, the Lady sees Sir

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-As she floats towards the city, the Lady of Shalott feels a growing sense of foreboding and impending doom. She knows that she has violated the curse and that there will be consequences. She sings a lament, expressing her sorrow and accepting her fate. The townspeople, confused by her song, wonder who she is and what has happened to her.

The Lady of Shalott arrives at Camelot, dead in her boat, with a lily in her hand. The knights and ladies of the court gather around her, shocked and saddened by her tragic end. Sir Lancelot, who had been the object of her affection, expresses remorse for the Lady's fate, recognizing the impact his presence had on her.

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-The poem ends with a moral reflection on the consequences of the Lady's actions and the dangers of pursuing unattainable desires. It suggests that the Lady's desire to break free from her isolation and experience the world directly ultimately led to her demise. The poem also explores themes of art and creativity, as the Lady of Shalott is depicted as an artist trapped in her tower, creating her own world through her weaving.

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-"The Lady of Shalott" is a complex and evocative poem that weaves together themes of isolation, desire, and the price of breaking free from societal constraints. It portrays the tragic consequences of pursuing unattainable desires and serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of defying one's destiny.

“The Lady of Shalott” poem


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.'



"The Lady of Shalott" is a powerful and timeless poem that explores themes of isolation, desire, and the consequences of defying societal constraints. The Lady's imprisonment in her tower and her reliance on a mirror to experience the outside world symbolize her isolation from society. 

Her fascination with Sir Lancelot and her decision to break the curse highlight the human desire for connection and the longing to experience life directly.

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-The poem serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the dangers of pursuing unattainable desires and the potential price one may pay for defying fate. The Lady's tragic end, as she floats lifeless to Camelot, underscores the inevitable consequences of her actions. Her death and the reactions of the people at Camelot evoke a sense of sorrow and reflection on the fleeting nature of human existence.

Moreover, "The Lady of Shalott" delves into the theme of art and creativity. The Lady is portrayed as an artist, weaving her tapestry in isolation, creating her own world. This artistic representation highlights the transformative power of art and the ability to transcend the limitations of reality.

"The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson-Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poetic mastery shines through in this narrative, with his vivid imagery and lyrical language. The poem's structure, filled with repetition and refrain, creates a musical quality that adds to its beauty and emotional impact.

"The Lady of Shalott" continues to resonate with readers today, inviting contemplation on the human condition, the consequences of yearning for unattainable desires, and the inherent limitations of societal expectations. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of accepting one's destiny, while also recognizing the profound longing for connection and the desire to break free from self-imposed restrictions


Q: Who is the author of "The Lady of Shalott"?

A: "The Lady of Shalott" was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Q: When was "The Lady of Shalott" published?

A: The poem was first published in 1832.

Q: What is the main theme of "The Lady of Shalott"?

A: The main themes of the poem include isolation, desire, the consequences of defying societal constraints, and the power of art and creativity.

Q: What message does "The Lady of Shalott" convey?

A: "The Lady of Shalott" conveys a cautionary message about the dangers of pursuing unattainable desires and defying one's destiny. It explores the consequences of breaking free from societal constraints and serves as a reflection on the fleeting nature of human existence.


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