Saturday, August 6, 2011

Half Sick of Shadows

The Lady of Shalott (1888) by John William Waterhouse

Alfred Tennyson was born on this date in 1809. His works have become the paragons of Victorian poetry. To commemorate his legacy of beauty, here are a few stanzas of my favorite Tennyson poem.

The Lady of Shalott (Stanzas 2-5)

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.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
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.

The Lady of Shalott (1905) by William Holman Hunt
 Absolutely beautiful.

This poem inspired many gorgeous interpretations from the Pre-Raphaelite painters, Waterhouse in particular. One of my favorite modern interpretations is the cover to Patricia A. McKillip's novel, The Tower at Stony Wood, illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft.

The Tower at Stony Wood (2000) by Kinuko Y. Craft

And it has also inspired musicians. Here's Loreena McKennitt:

I could go on and on sharing art and music. But you are know how to use a search engine. ;-)

I put various links into the text for this post. I don't know if I really like the way it feels, but, by observing how other blogs handle linkage, it seems like have a link list at the end of a post is totally old-fashioned. So, let's give it a try.


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