April 13, 2012

L is for...Lady of Shalott

If you follow Liz Parker's blog, The English Bad Ass, you already know that April is National Poetry Month. For a great poem every day this month you should check out her blog (which you should just do anyway). It is #FollowFriday after all. Today's A to Z letter is 'L', so I've decided to take a page from her book and post an 'L' poem that I've always liked, along with a painting or two of the poem. I'm only posting a segment from this poem because it's a gargantuan beast. I give you:

[Part II]
The Lady of Shalott (1888) by John William Waterhouse
Current location: Tate Gallery, London
  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.

  And moving thro' 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.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shalott (1916)
by John William Waterhouse
Current location: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
  An abbot on an ambling pad,
  Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
  Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
  Goes by to tower'd Camelot;

  And sometimes thro' 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 thro' 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. 

- Alfred Lord Tennyson -
       (1809 - 1892)

*     *     *

My first introduction to this poem was in the book-to-movie adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. If you've seen the movie, you'll probably remember this classic 'Anne with an E' scene:

Links to other Lady of Shalott paintings:
William A. Breakspeare (1872-1903)
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893)
John Atkinson Grimshaw #2
Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)
George Edward Robertson (1864-1926)
William Maw Egley (1826-1916)
Emma Florence Harrison (1877-1955)
William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)
Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829-1862)
Sidney Harold Meteyard (1868-1947)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Walter Crane (1845-1915)
W.E.F. Britten (1848-1916)
Toby Edward Rosenthal (1848-1917)
Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922)
• and many, many more

It's like some sort of Pre-Raphaelite hazing ritual→Thou shalt paint The Lady of Shalott, or else!

How about you? Do you have any favourite poems? Do you have a favourite painting? My favourite paintings are Boreas, Destiny, and Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May  all by Waterhouse.


  1. That is so cool! Dude, I totally think poetry is underrated. As for my favourite poem, I REALLY adore this "Poem Without A Title" by Charles Simic. It's simple, but profound. <3

    1. I need to read more poetry. I don't naturally flock to it, but when I read some I like I always think I should do it more often. I've read the poem you linked to before and enjoyed it too :)

  2. Nice, Jaime! And I love the poem :D Let me try to find that comment I left on Katy´s blog with one of my favorite poems (I even did a rough translation...) ... oh there it is: - Poem by Ronsard :D
    When you will be very old, at night by the chandelier,
    Sitting by the fire, talking and knitting
    Saying singing my verse, astonished
    “Ronsard celebrated me when I was beautiful”


    I will be under the earth, ghost without bones
    By mysterious shadows, I will take some rest
    You will be an old woman sitting by the fire

    Regretting my love and your proud disdain
    Live, if you believe me, do not wait until tomorrow
    Pick as soon as today the roses of life…

    1. Great poem, Elodie! :) I'm very impressed that you translated it and it still sounds poetic (sometimes stuff gets lost in the translation). I think one of the creepiest translations is Goethe's FAUST which rhymes (and makes sense) in both English and German. I know English has its roots in the Germanic language, but still. It's creepy O_o

  3. I knew I'd heard of this poem somewhere before--Anne of Green Gables! Yeah, I'm not exactly the most well-versed in either art or poetry. I bought a book of T.S. Eliot poems back when I was at University, partly because one of my good friends was an English major and she kept going on about how good Eliot was. I remember thinking it wasn't bad, but it's been a long time since I looked at it. I probably should become better versed in poetry (geddit?--poetry, verse... har har), but there's only so many hours in the day. *sigh.* Perhaps there's a POETRY FOR DUMMIES book... :)

    1. I'm not well-versed in poetry or art either. I just know a few of each that I like, and can appreciate either when I'm faced with it. I like art galleries and museums and really enjoy art, but I don't always get it. I also tend to prefer a lot of simple art that I actually get (though some of Jackson Pollock's stuff I find strangely fascinating). The same goes with poetry. As dumb as it might sound, I tend to like poetry that rhymes or has good rhythm. I love sonnets for that very reason (good gravy, I love iambic pentameter :D). But I too wish I were "better versed in poetry" (I got it--hardy har):)

      I'm ashamed to say that I actually have some "...For Dummies" books on my shelf right now, one of which is actually CANADIAN HISTORY FOR DUMMIES. Duh.

  4. Oh I love this! I especially love that you included the paintings and links to others. I'll be clicking those as soon as I'm done commenting. Thanks for the shout out :) I think you know full well by know that my favorite poet is E. E. Cummings. Happy Friday!

    1. I kind of got carried away with the links to various Lady of Shalott paintings. I seriously had no idea that that many people painted this character. Crazy.

      And you're welcome for the shout-out. I always enjoy checking out what you've posted on your blog :)

      P.S. Keep the E.E. Cummings coming ← see what I did there? I'm really enjoying his stuff!

  5. I love this poem - I remember reading it after I'd watched Anne of Green Gables (because I wanted to BE Anne, of course). In high school, I discovered Jim Carroll. I read Fear of Dreaming incessantly, turning down pages and marking favorite lines. A favorite was Blood Bridge:

    White ship disappears
    Into wave machine......this morning

    Your eyes got shot with
    Secret chains

    That the pill armies eventually
    Set free.

    You queens so often, in fact,
    Open my graceful anxieties

    Like soft horses through toy deserts.....

    I love this mansion
    Though it's too many windows

    To open halfway each morning
    To close halfway each night

    1. I don't know this poem. I'd have to read through it a few times to better understand it (I'm kind of slow to grasp the meaning in a lot of poetry). I really need to spend more time with poetry in general rather than always flocking to novels. I actually have several anthologies on my bookshelves that would be a great place to start.

      Thanks for sharing this poem :D

  6. Gorgeous, Jaime! I love that you included the paintings with the poem... They make the verses come alive. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I love the paintings, and they just go so well with the segment from the poem, I couldn't resist :)

  7. I love that classic Anne scene. :) I love this W.H. Auden poem and the Brueghel painting on which it's based: http://poetrypages.lemon8.nl/life/musee/museebeauxarts.htm

    1. I'm about due for an Anne of Green Gables movie marathon, I think :)

      Great poem and painting, by the way. I really enjoyed it!

  8. I am not a huge poetry fan, although I love Ellen Hopkins and am reading (somewhat) Paradise Lost, but I did enjoy that one. My favorite paintings hail from the Impressionist era, particularly Degas. I have several Degas-ish items around my house.

    Great post, Jaime - although I was kind of hoping your L day would be the Lucky meme floating around - my curious side wanted to see a snippet from your WIP! :)

    1. I should probably tackle Paradise Lost one day, but I'm not sure when. It just feels like one of those things I should read, you know? I also like Degas' art :)

      I actually posted a little snippet from my WiP back in March when I got tagged for the Lucky Se7en meme. It's changed somewhat from when I originally posted it, but here it is if you're still interested: My Excerpt :D

  9. We are kindred spirits, you and I. I love Anne and now my daughter does, too. I have a poster of the Waterhouse painting - it's my favorite. :) Great post!

    1. I love how many people love Anne too :) I guess I always just assumed that because it's a Canadian thing that maybe it didn't go much past our borders. Turns out I'm completely wrong, but that's all right! Glad that your daughter loves it now too :)

      I recently bought the collected works of Shakespeare that has all kinds of beautiful paintings throughout, many of them by Waterhouse. Another by him that I love is Miranda, The Tempest, which of course made it into the book with The Tempest play. It's just a beautiful book.

  10. I love that scene! (crud, now I need to pull out my Anne DVD again...)

    (Brain is drawing a blank on both poetry and paintings. I know I have some that I love, too early to remember what they are :-)... when I do, I'll post them here!)


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