The Lady of Shalott

Lord Alfred 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 through the field the road runs by
To many-towered 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               
Through 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-veiled,              
Slide the heavy barges trailed               
By slow horses; and unhailed              
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed               
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 towered Camelot:               
And by the moon the reaper weary,              
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,              
Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy               
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               
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-haired page in crimson clad,               
Goes by to towered 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.              
Part III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,               
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves,              
And flamed upon the brazen greaves               
Of bold Sir Lancelot.               
A red-cross knight for ever kneeled               
To a lady in his shield,             
That sparkled on the yellow field,              
Beside remote Shalott.              
               
The gemmy bridle glittered 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 blazoned baldric slung               
A mighty silver bugle hung,               
And as he rode his armour rung,               
Beside remote Shalott.              
               
All in the blue unclouded weather              
Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather              
Burned like one burning flame together,               
As he rode down to Camelot.              
As often through the purple night,               
Below the starry clusters bright,               
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,               
Moves over still Shalott.               
               
His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed;              
On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed              
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 through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,               
She saw the helmet and the plume,               
She looked down to Camelot.               
Out flew the web and floated wide;               
The mirror cracked 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 towered 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 seër 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--
Through 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,               
Turned to towered Camelot.               
For ere she reached 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."               
              
 

Poems by This Author

In Memoriam, Epilogue, [O true and tried, so well and long] by Lord Alfred Tennyson
O true and tried, so well and long
In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells] by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky
In Memoriam, [To Sleep I give my powers away] by Lord Alfred Tennyson
To Sleep I give my powers away
Break, Break, Break by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Break, break, break
Crossing the Bar by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Sunset and evening star
from The Princess [Sweet and low, sweet and low] by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Tears, Idle Tears by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean
The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Half a league, half a league
The Eagle by Lord Alfred Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands
The Hesperides by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The North-wind fall'n, in the new starréd night
The Kraken by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Below the thunders of the upper deep
The Splendor Falls by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The splendor falls on castle walls
Tithonus by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall
Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson
It little profits that an idle king,