This poem starts off by giving a visual overview of the situation. The reader is shown the river and the road, and, far in the distance, the towers of Camelot. The people mentioned in this section are not given specific identities; rather, they are common people going about their daily business. It is from their perspective that the poem first shows Shalott, an island in the river.
The imagery here is of nature, of freedom, of movement. This is contrasted with the inflexible, colorless walls and towers of Camelot in line 15. The flowers in the next line are not described by their colors or even by their motion in the breeze, but are "overlooked" by the grey walls, as if they are held prisoner. This tone of severity in the middle of nature's healthy activity prepares the reader for the introduction of the Lady of Shalott in line 18.
Lines 19-23 focus again on the human activity going on around the island: small river barges pass with heavy loads; small, quick boats called "shallops" skim past the shore around the tower, referred to here as a "margin." With all of this activity, the poem asks who has seen the woman who lives in the tower, implying that she is mysterious, unknown, "veiled."
In the fourth stanza of Section I, the imagery changes from relying on the senses of sight and touch (as...
(The entire section is 1800 words.)
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