Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My All Time Favorite Poem

The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I first heard this poem growing up when I watched the Anne of Green Gables series on public television. Anne pretends she'd the Lady of Shalott and gets herself sunk in a boat, only to be laughed at by Gilbert. I later studied the poem in British Authors in high school, and again in college.

Why do I like it so much?

1. I love the imagery. I can picture it in my head: the lilies blowing, the river flowing, and the towers of Camelot.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;
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,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

2. I love the tone: so melancholy and haunting like a ghost or a dream.

3. I love the ideas in it: tragic love, bound by duty, breaking a lifetime curse. The entire poem is so romantic. He says so much in so few words. I could write an entire book about this poem, and I've thought about it before. One of my characters in my first novel is insprired by the Lady of Shalott. She is exiled and sits by her loom in the forest weaving rainbow thread.

4. My favorite line when Sir Lancelot is described is so hot! "The helmet and the helmet-feather burned like one burning flame together..." I can see him riding along the river and I can feel her desire as she sees his reflection in the mirror by her loom.

5. The ending. She gives up her weaving and breaks the curse for Lancelot and at the end, when he looks upon her dead he says, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace" which means that he would have loved her had he met her alive. So tragic and so romantic!

This poem inspires me to write.

Are there any poems that inspire you?


Mary Gray said...

I have this painting hanging in my study. I love this poem and painting too. :)

Lindsey Duncan said...

I assume you've heard Loreena McKennit sing this as a ballad? It's simply gorgeous.

Aubrie said...

Thanks, My. Gray.

Lindsey, Yes, I love Loreena McKennit!

bettielee said...

A print of the painting by Sir Frank Dicksee "La Belle Dame sans merci" hangs in my cubicle at work. It actually inspired me to write about it... I love it. Sorry derail. The poem "Eleven" by Archibald MacLeish is incredible. Also - How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! by Alexander Pope! What a great post, by the way. I just read The Once and Future King!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love that poem! *sigh* That and La Belle Dame sans Merci. I just love the artwork associated with those pieces. When hubby, family, and I eventually move to a larger house, I would love to hang those pictures somewhere. Wouldn't that be lovely?

Roxy said...

Absolutely love Tennyson! Thank you so much for featuring this poem. It is so beautifully and elegantly done. Maybe I should post Ulysses next. :)

Racquel Henry said...

I don't have a specific poem that inspires me but I do have many songs. It's corny, but that song by Natasha Beddingfield, "Unwritten" and also "Paperback Writer" by The Beatles makes me want to write!

Tara McClendon said...

I'm a fan of the classics. I loved this scene from AofGG. It's something I would've done as a kid.

Anonymous said...

I can't really say that I have a certain poem that inspires me. I've read poems by Emily Dickenson and T.S. Eliot.

You teased me with the beauty of the section of the poem you posted. I had to go in search for the complete version. This is such a lovely poem.

Cher Green

Lisa Rusczyk said...

I love The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot. It's a long one, and it's always been my favorite.

Aubrie said...

The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot is another one of my all time favorite poems! I'll have to blog about that one as well!

thanks everyone for commenting!

Julie Dao said...

I've said before that I don't like poetry, but I've recently discovered that what I mean is modern poetry. I love the great romantic poets like Keats and Byron, and this Lord Tennyson poem is heartbreakingly beautiful. I tried writing a story about Elaine some years ago but never got around to finishing it ... I'll have to dig it out - but this poem inspired me to write it! Thank you for sharing!