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The Lady of Shalott


I romancerne om Kong Arthur er "The Lady of Shalott" Elaine, jomfruen fra Astolat. Tennyson portrætterer Lady of Shalott som en gådefuld ung kvinde, der bor i et tårn, alene og uset, på en ø i den flod, der flyder forbi Camelot. Idet hun er under en forbandelse, tilbringer hun dagene med at væve de glimt, hun får af Camelot i spejlet foran sig, til en fantastisk gobelin. Hun bliver træt af sit hule skyggeliv, da den ædle ridder Lancelot ses i krystalspejlet. Hun forlader væven, ramt af kærlighedens forbandelse. Ved flodbredden finder hun en båd tøjret og skriver "The Lady of Shalott" i stævnen, hvorefter hun lægger sig i båden og lader sig drive med strømmen til Camelot, mens hendes liv ebber ud. Hun dør, inden hun når land, og beboerne i Camelot står chokerede og tavse ved synet af hendes underlige ligbåre. Lancelot er dog berørt af hendes skønhed og beder Gud tage imod hende med nåde.

In the King Arthur romances ”The Lady of Shalott” is Elaine, the maiden of Astolat. Tennyson portrays the Lady of Shalott as a mysterious young woman who lives in a tower, alone and unseen, on an island in the river that flows past Camelot. Under a curse she spends her days weaving the glimpses of Camelot in the mirror in front of her into a fantastic tapestry. She grows weary of her hollow shadowlife when she sees the gallant knight, Lancelot, in her crystal mirror. She abandons her loom, struck by the curse of love. By the river bank she finds a boat moored and writes “The Lady of Shalott” on its prow, then lays herself down and lets the boat carry her to Camelot while her life ebbs away. She dies before reaching the shore and the people of Camelot are shocked and silent at the sight of her strange bier. Lancelot, however, is moved by her beauty and asks God to look with grace upon her.

Part I

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 forever
By the island in the river
     Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers.
And the silent isle imbowers
     The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veiled,
Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
     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 towered Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
     Lady of Shalott."


Arthur Hughes: The Lady of Shalott

Jphn Atkinson Grimshaw: The Lady of Shalott
Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colors 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.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
     Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
     Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
     Goes by to towered Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
     The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
     And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
     The Lady of Shalott.


Part III

A bowshot from her bower eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
     Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight forever kneeled
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
     Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glittered free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
     As he rode down to Camelot;
And from his blazoned baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung,
     Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jeweled shone the saddle leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burned like one burning flame together,
     As he rode down to Camelot;
As often through the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
     Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed;
On burnished hooves his war horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
     As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
     Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
     She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
     The Lady of Shalott.


John Sidney Meteyard: The Lady of Shalott

William Holman Hunt: The Lady of Shalott
Part IV

In the stormy east wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
      Over towered Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
     The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance–
With a glassy countenance
     Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right–
That leaves upon her falling light–
Through the noises of the night
     She floated down to Camelot;
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
     Turned to towered Camelot.
For ere she reached upon the tide
The first house by the waterside,
Singing in her song she died,
     The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony
By garden wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between, the houses high,
     Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
     The Lady of Shalott

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
     All the knights at Camelot
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
     The Lady of Shalott."