Please comment upon the following lines from "The Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
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.
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You have quoted the stanza that opens the second section of this famous poem. This stanza actually gives us key information about the Lady of Shalott and the kind of life that she leads, and in particular the curse that she lives under. Note the way that the first half of this stanza indicates that, as the Lady is unable to participate in life, she spends her time weaving a representation of the sights that she sees through the mirror, a "magic web with colours gay." Because the curse forbids her to look down to Camelot and see reality with her naked eye, she has to have reality mediated through the mirror, and records her sights in the weaving that she spends all day doing, "weaving steadily," having little else to engage her attentions.
You might like to think about how this stanza presents one of the key conflicts in the poem, which is between art and life. The Lady of Shalott is removed by the curse from participating in life, and tries to record life through the art of her weaving. Yet it is very clear that this is only a pale imitation of the life that she desires, as her decision to break the curse and look down upon Sir Lancelot indicates.
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