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The Lady of Shalott

Written by: Alfred Lord Tennyson | Biography
 | Quotes (78) |
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; 5 
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, 10 
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, 15 
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 20 
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? 25 
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 30 
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 35 
Lady of Shalott.' 

PART II
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 40 
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. 45 

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: 50 
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, 55 
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 60 
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, 65 
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; 70 
'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, 75 
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, 80 
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 85 
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. 90 

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. 95 
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; 100 
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 105 
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, 110 
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; 115 
'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, 120 
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 125 
The Lady of Shalott. 

And down the river's dim expanse¡ª 
Like some bold seer in a trance, 
Seeing all his own mischance¡ª 
With a glassy countenance 130 
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. 135 

Lying, robed in snowy white 
That loosely flew to left and right¡ª 
The leaves upon her falling light¡ª 
Thro' the noises of the night 
She floated down to Camelot: 140 
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, 145 
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 150 
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, 155 
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, 160 
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; 165 
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, 170 
The Lady of Shalott.' 



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