Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Lady of Shallot

I have to be honest. I'm not a huge fan of poetry. Never have been. Sometimes, it just seems like too much work for the benefits. And I feel stupid reading poetry. Words that don't make any sense....why wasn't my time?

Then I read Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot...and everything changed. Since The Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge started, I thought this would be a good time to talk about it. I mean, this is a Fantasy poem about Camelot, Sir Lancelot, and an evil curse?? Sounds like it fits the OUaT bill to a tee!

Originally written in 1833, The Lady of Shallot has been depicted in many paintings (a few pictures I've added here), song, and verse. It is an incredibly beautiful poem, and if you haven't read it, DO IT. Take the word of someone that really dislikes poetry. It's worth the time. Fair maiden cursed forever to never be able to see the world, except through a mirror, spends her time weaving a magical web. Until she sees the beautiful knight, Sir Lancelot....and risks the curse to glance at him. Unfortunately for her, she can't escape the curse, even for Lancelot. It's actually incredibly sad to think that she risked everything for love....a love that was never returned. In fact, Lancelot never even had a chance to meet the Lady of Shallot.

"There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with color gay
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay to look down on Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath, she
The Lady of Shallot."

Then she sees Lancelot:

"His broad clear bow 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 her 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 Shallot."

Arthurian literature has always been something that has intrigued me. And after reading this wonderful poem, I know that I have to read more. This lovely poem made me cry the first time I read it. It brought on deep emotions, and I can see how it has stirred many an artist. The last picture, I found on the internet is a Steam-punk Version/rendition of The Lady of Shallot. So Cool. And if you have a few minutes, please listen to the Lorenna McKinnet video I posted at the end. She adapted this poem to music, and it is truly beautiful. It makes my heart ache.


Debi said...

I actually enjoy poetry but never seem to make any time for it. :( Thanks so much for posting the video--such gorgeous images and her voice is just so stunningly beautiful!

Stephanie said...

I know!! I love her music so much, and I love this poem too!

Michelle said...

Every time I see or hear this poem, I think of Anne of Green Gables. The two just go hand-in-hand for me. Thanks for sharing a great poem!

Anonymous said...

reading this poem always makes me shiver...


Chris said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I love poetry so much...but I just have to read the RIGHT poetry otherwise I'm all confused too :p May I suggest Katrina Vandenberg's book Atlas? It's one of my favorite books ever...amazing poetry!

Caroline said...

What a lovely post. I love this poem and the paintings and Loreena McKennitt's music. I think I got all of her CDs. I will need to check out Chris' book suggestion.

Vasilly said...

I read this poem a few years ago and I really loved it. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Rebecca Reid said...

I cannot think of LADY OF SHALLOT without thinking of Anne of Green Gables. Except I've never read the poem! I really need to, especially since Natl poetry month is in April...Thanks for the reminder

joanna said...

I've never read the full poem, but love what I know because Anne of Green Gables loves it so much, I especially remember her reciting it at the beginning of the film version. Thanks for sharing the song, it's beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful poem. Like a few of the previous commenters, I also think of Anne of Green Gables when I hear it.

buy wow account said...

WoW! cool post. .love this poem.. =0

Carl V. said...

If asked I would probably say that I do have a love of poetry, but that would be somewhat incorrect. After all, if you love something you should spend more time with it, eh? So to be more accurate, I have an affection for poetry, and that affection was born largely out of two poems: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, and The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson. I first fell in love with this poem (and I do LOVE this poem) because of Megan Follows playing Anne of Green Gables. For so many reasons I was smitten by this character, not the least of which was this poem. I've been fascinated with the imagery and the mystery of it ever since (and that has been over 20 years ago).

One of my favorite antique books is a beautiful (though worn) copy of Tennyson's poetry that includes this poem. And I just love the Lorenna McKinnet song.

I hadn't seen that steampunk image. Another cool version of this (with other fantastical elements) is Kinuko Y. Craft's cover illustration for Patricia A. McKillip's novel The Tower at Stoney Wood. I have the puzzle version of it as well. It is a beautiful image.

Since you liked this one, you may also enjoy Keats' La Belle Dam Sans Merci. Keats is a poet I've really grown to enjoy since the Bright Star movie. I'm also really liking the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Vamchoir said...

Oober awesome. Love the fun that your poetic quotation brought with such vivid details of Camelot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! I read this when I was very young (10 or under) and lost the book it was in and I haven't ever been able to find it since, but it made an impression because I have always remembered it!
Thanks :)

Kristina Mercier said...

I ran across you bog about poetry and I'm interested in sending you my book. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I've tried to locate an email for you but haven't found one. If you want to visit my site and let me know if you are intersted:-)

Best, K

shahanara said...

Really a beautiful poem. I love your poem1

Plumbing Fittings said...

I thought I could try reading one and picked up a book on vampires written by a quite famous author. This book has changed my reading habits since then. My journey as a real bookaholic has begun.

Sarah Hintch said...

wonderful poem! sometimes I think that poetry is the best and most difficult form of writing and should be commended greatly, for it is within just a few short stanzas, that a whole story or message is told. Some novel's can't even accomplish that!

Erin said...

Wow that picture is so beautiful. Saved it as desktop background.

lady shallot painting fan said...

Such a beautifully haunting painting. The story behind the painting by Waterhouse is tragic also.