Can someone explain the following passage from "The Lady of Shalott" please? Lying, robed in snowy white That loosely flew to left and right— The leaves upon her falling light— Thro'...

Can someone explain the following passage from "The Lady of Shalott" please?

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.

Expert Answers
kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not say that she has fallen in love with Lancelot; because she could not view what was outside of the tower with her own eyes, she must view the outside world through a mirror. After hearing Lancelot, she cannot resist any longer, knowing full well that she will die once she views anything with her own eyes that is outside of the tower. She sees Lancelot, who was a strikingly handsome knight. I tend to believe that she was merely overjoyed to be able to see someone so handsome and stately with her own eyes (finally) and that doing so was worth dying for. She may have decided that living the way she lived was no way to live. She could not experience beauty firsthand.

She climbs out of the tower and is dressed in what would be clothing people would dress her in after she has died and what she would be buried in. She is aware that she will perish, so she climbs in a boat and floats very slowly towards Camelot, in effect, singing her own funeral song. She is later found when she comes ashore and Lancelot notes that she was a pretty young woman.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Lady, who is cursed, and must remain in the tower or face death, abandons her tower and gets in a boat determined to sail to Camelot. She has fallen in love with Lancelot. However, during the journey, she dies.

The chanting is imagery that her death is near, the images of cold, frozen and darkness all symbolize the Lady's descent into death. She dies slowly as the boat sails towards Camelot.

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The Lady of Shalott

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