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?