The Lady of Shalott eText - eText

This eText contains embedded glossary terms and other notes added by our community of educators. Simply click or tap on the yellow highlighted words within the text to see the annotations.
Turn Off

Text of the Poem

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;                   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 grey walls, and four grey 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."

II
There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colors 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.

III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through 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 blazoned 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 through 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 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 thro' the room,            110     
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;           115
"The curse is come upon me," cried
     The Lady of Shalott.

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
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
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— 
The leaves upon her falling light— 
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 darkened wholly,
     Turned 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."