Narrate these lines
Only reapers, reaping early In among the bearded barley, Hear a song that echoes cheerly From the river winding clearly, Down to towered Camelot: And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy, Listening, whispers "'Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott."
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One way to interpret poetry is to make sure you first understand all the vocabulary. Poems written almost 200 years ago are bound to include words we computer geeks with our techno-gadgets may not know. Lord Tennyson would have no idea what an MP3 file is.
Reaping means to gather or cut, like a crop. It also reminds me of the Grim Reaper so there could be some foreshadowing happening.
Barley is a grain. Bearded barley means it's ripe for picking. The phrase also shows deft use of alliteration and personification.
Sheaves are bundles of barley that reapers have gathered.
Tennyson uses an allusion to Camelot of the early Middle Ages. King Arthur and his knights of the round table were known as invincible warriors. Legend has it they were pretty hot guys.
Here's a contemporary translation:
Only the reapers (workers) picking fat barley in the early morning
Hear a song that drifts down the river toward towering Camelot.
After a long day of work, the reaper piles the bundled grain on higher ground away from the fields,
And listens for the song and declares it belongs to the "fairly Lady of Shalott."
The passage adds mystery and mysticism to this woman. Does she exist? Doesn't she? Only a song suggests she exists.
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