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The Lady of Shalott (1832)

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 arm our 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,<
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:29 min read
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Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.  more…

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